Cold NortonCold Norton
Album: Brewing Company EP
Label: Golden Goose
Tracks: 6

This EP comes very smartly packaged in a little matt record type sleeve with the CD itself cut vinyl like and it even has the grooves of a mini 45!

According to the accompanying promo notes, Cold Norton emerged out of the respected band Navacross after the lead singer moved on to pursue a solo career. This left Gary Choules on double bass, Andy Pilgrim on drums and Noel Gander on guitar and lead vocals. In addition, Ian Fulcher has now joined them on keys.

With 5 covers and one original, the aim of this EP was to introduce the new band sound to the public and industry alike, plus fill a gap in output whilst they are working on a full album of original material.

Accordingly, whilst rooted in the blues, this EP does it's best to both cover as broad a base as possible whilst showcasing the bands playing and performances.

The first track, 'Matlock Bath Blues' is the only original and is written by Noel Candler. It starts as a slow, leisurely, blues number with a lovely vocal, shades of Ray Lamontagne in places and boasts a sweet guitar solo, full of staccato, pinched notes. It carries on in this vein for the best part of four minutes and then hesitates before belting headlong into a gloriously bonkers rock instrumental fade out which sounds as though it is from a completely different song. Have to say I loved it though!

Track 2 is the old Louis Innes tune 'Aint Got A Pot To Peel Potatoes In' which is one of those hokey, nonsense blues songs but delivered with real verve here and swings along on a lovely double bass line and drum pattern.

The third song 'Can't Get You Out Of My Mind' is another cover with a tight, shuffle feel pushed along by Andy Pilgrim's 'George Of The Jungle' type drumming and features a spacey, reverb ridden solo by Noel Gander and then another towards the end which is more spiky and trebly.

Track 4 is the Little Richard song 'Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey'. As to be expected given the writer, this song belts along at a frantic pace and whilst nothing is wrong with the playing and performance, it does all sound a bit predictable and unimaginative.

Song 5 is 'Grown So Ugly' by Robert Pete Williams and the performance is a stand out. It is also the least blues sounding number here. It starts off with something of a Dave Matthews or Spin Doctors type feel with that lovely syncopated rock band sound they have perfected and after about 35 seconds manages to somehow slip into a Jimi Hendrix doing 'Black Betty' groove, which really shouldn't work but totally does. This is brilliantly inventive stuff in my view.

The last track is the traditional song 'Must Be Jelly' that seems pretty much a solo, acoustic performance by Noel Candler. It features what sounds like a beautifully rich national steel guitar and some lovely slide playing which puts me in mind of Catfish Keith and Kent Duchaine. The vocal on this is also particularly strong, mellower than on the electric tracks and has shades of the great Ted Hawkins.

So, overall I think this EP achieves everything it sets out to do and certainly showcases some great band playing and vocals. It also highlights what a creative band they are, some of the arrangements here are full of clever twists, and turns that go way beyond the blues. In fact, the only criticism I would have is that a couple of the song choices are a little limiting and maybe do not serve the band as well as they might. I do not necessarily think the world needs another Little Richard cover. However, I would very much like to hear what Cold Norton could do with one of the many great Ian Siegal songs for example.

Paul Jackson

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