Since Blues Pills released the Devil Man EP last year I’ve been looking forward to the release of their full length album. And it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
The EP was one of my favourite releases of 2013, and it goes without saying that their self-titled full length debut is a favourite of 2014. I do feel a little remiss that I’m reviewing this from an online stream. With a sound that seems to come straight from the ’60s and ’70s, I feel that I should be listening to it on vinyl in a basement with “incense”, lava lamps and sitting on a bean bag; but it’s 2014 and I’m at my laptop with coffee, streaming it online – I do have a lava lamp! It doesn’t matter though, Blues Pills is all you need to transfer you to the lost era of shag carpet and shaggin wagons.
“High Class Woman” opens the album with the perfect mix of grooving drums, killer bass and guitar, powerful vocals and just the right amount of fuzz. From there it’s just hit after hit after hit. It’s 43 minutes of intense guitar work, forceful bass lines, powerful drums full of groove, and perfect ’70s style vocals. Blues Pills aren’t only guiding you through an era of music lost to time, but are inviting you in, offering tea and a couch to crash on for the night.
“Black Smoke” begins with a ballad-esque tone before breaking out the fuzz and stoner rock, a pattern that follows in “River” and “No Hope Left For Me.” It’s all part of the Blues Pills sound and a testament to their skill and talent. “River” and “Devil Man” from the EP appear on the album, but Blues Pills have recorded them again making some changes and effectively creating two new songs. This is actually the third time “Devil Man” has been recorded, but this has a definitive feel about it. I don’t think we’ll be seeing another version of “Devil Man” after this.
Including a cover of Chubby Checker’s “Gypsy”, a song that the band used for soundcheck that made its way on their setlist, and now on their album. Taking cues from the bands that inspired their own sound, the cover is intended to honour Chubby Checker, but making it their own by adding a Blues Pills twist.
Blues Pills is more than just an album of 10 songs. It’s an experience. A trip down memory lane. Or a holiday to a time some of us never had the opportunity to live through.