Deram 1973 / Esoteric 2013
An end of the road turns out the blues institution’s greatest moment.
As their chosen genre dictates, in the glitter era Stan Webb’s combo got themselves a bad mojo. The trio configuration of 1972 didn’t work too well, the pay dirt lay out of reach and even their very identity seemed to get dented. All this made the leader expand the ranks, put his name, prefaced with “featuring”, on the cover, and think of leaving, so there’s a perfect logic in progressing from “Poor Boy” of "Imagination Lady" the boisterous rendition of its follow-up’s title track. Yet, as another cover, Lonnie Johnson’s “Too Late To Cry”, states here sparingly, the result is very much uplifting.
The reason for that are Chris Mercer’s brass and Tony Ashton’s ivories which add to joie de vivre to peak on the boogie “Jammin’ With Ash”, all 7 minutes of it, and instrumental “Prudence’s Party”, and Aussie Bob Daisley’s bass swelling around Paul Hancox’s drums. The rhythm section’s taut clutch puts hooks into the tom-tom bouncing guitar wall of opener “You Know You Could Be Right” and frame the self-aggrandizing swagger of “Stan The Man”, while the fat-toned licks and saxes wrap “Revelation” in a radio-friendly foil that Gary Moore would cop later on. More so, the tenderness of “As Time Goes Passing By” is stressed with Terry Noonan-arranged strings. Signing the masterpiece off with the lively jump blues “He Knows The Rules”, translated from piano to electricity, Webb lives up to its title. Sadly, there wasn’t much life left in the SHACK who fizzled out a year later, after a kick-ass concert goodbye… only to return to the fray later in the decade and stay on.