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Andy Fairweather Low & The LowRiders

Proper Music

When you are of sufficient standing to have none other than ace musician Paul Carrack drop by and play Hammond on three tracks of your next release, you are clearly doing something right..and just that happens on AFL’s latest outing called ‘Zone-O-Tone’

I recall many many years ago Andy appearing as a guest on the BBC radio’s programme ‘Desert Island Discs’ and I was pretty much spellbound as for his top ten favourite tracks he picked not Debussy but six or seven Ry Cooder cuts, Ry at that time being not an internationally renowned musician but someone that those hip to Little Feat , the Rising Sons and Taj Mahal had discovered and were lapping up his solo career records. So since then I have had a lot of time for AFL. I wasn’t surprised when he toured in Eric Clapton’s band. I bet he doesn’t even remember being on ‘Desert Island Discs’….

So here is our singer and guitarist wallowing in his roots influences as he comes up with a set of new songs of his own composition and with a hand-picked pokey band able to deliver the nuances, accents and energy required. If this happens to be your thing, then this set will be like your favourite old slippers or your mum’s apple pie. As such, the music is definitely outside of fashion or any vogue, as maybe Nick Lowe’s might be. The man himself plays the various guitar parts on the disc and has expert skinsman Paul Beavis aboard plus bass player of my acquaintance Dave Bronze ( Eric Bibb, Robin Trower, Clappo etc etc..and do you remember smashing through ‘Machine Gun’ with Ann McCue at The Borderline, Dave ?? I bet Andy could sing the back off that song )  -also and very pleasingly reeds man NIck Pentelow.  Nothing will go wrong with this crew, rest assured…so what goes particularly right ?

Well the jukebox beat of ‘Dance On ‘ with its nimble steps gets the toes tapping ; ‘Deep River Blues’ could have come straight out of perennial Joe Brown’s act with its gentle acoustic picking and easy-going chorale  ; ‘Let Me Be Your Angel’ is a rolling croon taken at a soft Fats Domino / Hoagy Carmichael pace and yes there’s Carrack sighing on the keys.  ‘Hard Way To Go’ sounds like a Freddy Fender cover but isn’t. ‘Breakin’ Chains’ is a 6/8 buzzing electric guitar stomp and AFL sounds at his most relaxed singing this, nice sombre changes on this cut – a future stage favourite I surmise…

‘Unclouded Day’ has that Cooder edge-of-rickety tempo sho nuff and is a pleasant listen..could be off ‘Boomer’s Story’ though  Andy’s pipes are less cracked that the slide maestro’s. Most bluesy track is ‘You’ll Never Beat The Devil’ and the vocal is almost conspiratorial in delivery. ‘Blood Toys’ has dark almost funk feel and AFL sings brilliantly on his Mayfield-tinged protest piece. It’s easily the set’s highlight, for me

A quality lineup making easy-rolling rootsy music – My only carp would be that a few more wild guitar moments would have brought a bit of 3-D here and there – be bold, Andy !

Pete Sargeant       

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