So deep it hurts: British blues miner gets to the bottom of a mood.
Devised as an instrumental enterprise, this project lost its initial intent almost right away, because Mick Clarke wouldn’t get in the way of a good song, no matter how bad he wanted to hush it down after a live album. That’s probably why there’s not much of a buildup ado, the veteran cutting to the chase with “Dry Road Blues” whose powerful groove and roar reek of rapture and relent only on a slider-abetted solo, whereas the rambunctious “Rhumbatism” remains one of a few numbers which need no words to deliver a shiver once Mick’s two guitars engage in a lively conversation and ivories make a cameo.
The heavy chops behind “Noodle Bar” might pull the piece’s piano-punctured punches for a greater ultimate impact, but when acoustic strings bring a recitative into it, a trance-like buzz sets in. Just as intense, if sparsely delivered, “Crack In The Wall” is rather menacing, though, unlike “Bluestring” that can be traced back to Booker T. Never the one to hide his influences, Clarke is still able to whip surprise out of familiar tune, and if his take on “Smokestack Lightning” choogles in a crash-and-burn manner, the shifting of accents in “Any Place Is Paradise” from vocal to instrumental performance, while voicing it with all the ardor of an Elvis aficionado, makes this rendition immensely vibrant.
Just as seething, “Zeitgeist Boogie” is splashed with fusion, yet the twang of country staple “Sweet Dreams” couldn’t be more romantic if only the title track didn’t undermine its dewy-eyed disposition to end the record with a refined blues – Clarke’s core. That’s what he’s been diggin’ for, and it’s worth every minute of Mick’s sweating it.