Shakin’ hellhounds from their trail, British bluesmen run from dusk to dawn, from the blue shadows into the house of blue light.
There ain’t no half-measures for Helge Rognstad. The weaker spirits may find comfort recording in their bedrooms and sharing files with name guests, yet this singing axeman looks for both inspiration and authenticity in the right places. And what’s more right for a classic vibe than Sun Studio in Memphis? Rognstad flew there not only himself, to meet Jerry Lee Lewis’ drummer Robert Hall, but also former WHITESNAKE bassist Neil Murray and ex-NAZARETH guitar-slinger Manny Charlton who produced some of the tracks on the band’s full-length debut and wrote one before the operation relocated to London. No wrong-footing here, then, save for the album’s artwork with its fantasy setting which suggests metal to the same extent that the ensemble’s name hints at pop, whereas the group’s stomping ground is country blues.
Not for nothing Charlton’s “Can’t Stop The Rain” takes it all to the Crossroads – in quite a different scenario, getting one’s soul back from Mr. D – after the harmonica and slider of the title cut chase the daily troubles away and drive “Little Brother” from our Big Brother reality, reflected as well in the relaxed, if angry, “Vigilante Man” cover. It starts with a confession, though: “I am a man of six strings and a hope,” sings Helge over an acoustic strum shot through with an electric riff that rules the den in the heavy air of “Why Don’t You Smile” which shouts “Hey Joe” to the ghost of Robert Johnson and balances tremulous licks on a bottom-end quake. The wholly different lotta shaking goes on, with the legendary Sun echo, in “Mean Ol’ Frisco” where West Weston’s harp waltzes with guitars, while “Travelling Shoes” and “Your Way” are made for a collective walking, their harmonic choruses as unshakable as hellhounds having fun.
So much for fighting demons, there’s a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” strategy in the works. And boy, are the works good!