Tuesday, October 19

Recession CDs – Blues Preachers

- October 3, 2014

– review by Valmae Young

On great peace activist John Lennon’s birthday, Thursday 9 October, The Blues Preachers will be performing songs of peace and reconciliation including their acclaimed song ‘Divine Justice Coming Down’, which has been selected by Yoko Ono as ‘runner-up’ in The John Lennon 70th Birthday Anniversary Song Contest. You may well know John Lennon’s famous song ‘Give Peace a Chance’ in a 1969 single by (John Lennon’s) Plastic Ono Band, which became an anthem of the American anti-war movement at that time. However, since the world recession struck in 2007, Blues Preachers have brought out three recession CDs where peace and reconciliation are not the only themes … but recession itself. This is encapsulated dramatically in the original and award winning song ‘Divine Justice Coming Down’, on the ‘Dead Catz Can Bounce’ album.

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The Blues Preachers were also nominated in the Sing Out for Social Action category of the 2009 Independent Music Awards and were ‘runner-up’ in the folk and open sections of the 2009 Australian Songwriting Awards. Arguably another side to the recession is the grittier, seedier side of life, which is described by songs like ‘Pay Day’, ‘Saint James Infirmary’, ‘Goodnight Irene’ and ‘Gambling Bar Room Blues’.

There is also a lot of blues history in all three albums, and listeners can’t help but surrender their souls to the wonderfully harmonic revival of good old fashioned blues songs, mostly from the late twenties and early thirties from the likes of Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, Lead Belly, Blind Willie Johnson and Tommy Johnson, with memorable polished covers often sounding better than the original. The CDs also feature a couple of remakes of Hank Williams’ forties classic songs and a few other cover versions of more recent songs like ‘Bill from Erskinville’ by John Dengate, from 1972.

Blues Preachers have been together for over twenty years now and, as you’d expect, in that length of time the world has seen many changes. But the Sydney-based band has always had an immediately recognisable, unprecedented and striking style of brilliant and authentic musicianship and is an arresting, acoustic blend of blues, rag, gospel and hillbilly folk music. They claim they are influenced by Mississippi John Hurt, Jimmie Rodgers, The Beatles, Sonny Terry, Robert Johnson, The Reverend Robert Wilkins, Bob Dylan and The Everly Brothers.

Captain Bluetongue works extraordinary miracles on the chromatic and diatonic Hohner harmonica and vocals. Brother John Morris provides remarkable vocals which are accompanied by his twangy, tuneful finger and bottleneck style of Gilet guitar playing.

The first album released 2008, ‘Next Stop Beulah Land’, consists of 13 tracks and Amie Joy Zar made a guest appearance on the Mohan Vina in ‘Trouble’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’. The second album released 2009, ‘Dry Long So’, is a compilation of an astounding 18 tracks varying in mood, from the morbid ‘The Angel of Death’ and ‘Oh Death’ to the sleaziness of ‘Goodnight Irene’ and the sexy romanticism of ‘My Babe’. The latest album released in 2010, ‘Dead Catz Can Bounce’, features more original tracks. It begins with a beautiful comic ditty named after the album title depicting the differences between rich and poor. The album also features 11 other tracks including ‘Divine Justice Coming Down’ and ‘The Free Train Agreement’. In ‘The Free Train Agreement’, Blues Preachers used a five string banjo, a big foot stomp box, standard diatonic harmonicas and a huge bass harmonica which has been used to create the drone effect on many of their tracks. ‘The Free Train Agreement’ was nominated top five position in the acoustic category in the Independent Music Awards 2011. The ‘Dead Catz Can Bounce’ album finishes up as it starts with a humorous song called ‘Salty Dog’.

‘The Free Train Agreement’ was also chosen by The Association Of Artists For A Better World to be included in a compilation: ‘Protest Songs For a Better World Vol. 4’, which was released in May 2011 and should be available from iTunes and the Association of Artists for a Better World website: http://www.abetterworld.ca/?p=7703

For guitar players, the e-book released in November 2013 has 13 songs in sheet music for the guitar taken from all three albums, and each page contains an embedded audio file so you can listen to the songs yourself as done by Blues Preachers. For harmonica players, see Captain Bluetongue’s website – http://bluetongueharmonica.com.au/ – dedicated to all your needs including harmonica lessons, music, tablature and instruction manuals. You can listen to some of the songs for free, buy the CDs and the e-book yourself and much more on the website – at http://www.bluespreachers.com – or find them on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/The-Blues-Preachers

Blues Preachers extra information:

E-book Nov 2013 –

Beulah Land 1928 Mississippi John Hurt
Chump Man Blues 1929 Blind Blake
Daniel – original song – Craig Lyons and John Morris
Divine Justice Coming Down – original song – John Morris
Going up the Country 1929 Henry Thomas
Goodnight Irene 1933 Lead Belly
My Babe was written by Willie Dixon and Charles Stone and first recorded by Little Walter Jacobs in 1955
Louis Collins 1928 Mississippi John Hurt
Nobody’s Fault But Mine 1929 Blind Willie Johnson
On Your Bond 1929 Blind Willie Johnson
Pay Day 1928 Mississippi John Hurt
Prodigal Son 1935 Rev Robert Wilkins
Trimmed and Burning 1920s Blind Willie Johnson

Next Stop Beulah Land (2008) –

Daniel Wabash Rag 1927 Blind Blake
Sitting on top of the world traditional blues song
St James Infirmary is based on an 18th century traditional English folk song
St James Infirmary Blues 1928 influential recording Louis Armstrong
Plant the Seed original song – Craig Lyons and John Morris
Going up the Country 1929 Henry Thomas 1968 Canned Heat (Alan Wilson)
Nobody’s Fault But Mine 1929 Blind Willie Johnson
Trimmed and Burning 1928 Blind Willie Johnson
Trouble original song – John Morris and Craig Lyons
Chump Man Blues 1929 Blind Blake
Mystery Train 1953 Junior Parker
Prodigal Son 1935 Rev Robert Wilkins

Dry Long So (2009) –

Pay Day 1928 Mississippi John Hurt
Big Road Blues 1928 Tommy Johnson
Beulah Land 1928 Mississippi John Hurt
Creole Belle 1928 Mississippi John Hurt
Oh Death late 1920s Moran Lee ‘Dock’ Boggs
I Am A Pilgrim traditional blues song
My Babe was written by Willie Dixon and Charles Stone and first recorded by Little Walter Jacobs in 1955
On Your Bond / Happy Meeting In Glory – Blind Willie Johnson
Bourgeois Blues 1938 Lead Belly
Red Hot 1936 Robert Johnson
The Angel Of Death 1940s Hank Williams
John The Revelator 1930 Blind Willie Johnson
The Coo Coo 1920s Charles Anderson
Hard Time Killing Floor 1920s & 1930s Skip James
Trimmed and Burning 1928 Blind Willie Johnson
You’ve Got To Move before WW2 Rev Gary Davis & Fred McDowell
Goodnight Irene 1933 Leadbelly
Be Kind original song

Dead Catz Can Bounce (2010) –

Dead Catz Can Bounce – original song – John Morris and Craig Lyons
The Free Train Agreement – original song – John Morris and Craig Lyons
Arrivals and Departures – original song – John Morris and Craig Lyons
Without You – original song – John Morris
Little Martha 1972 Duane Allman
I Saw the Light 1948 Hank Williams
Divine Justice Coming Down – original – John Morris
Big Jack Lang – original – John Morris
Gambling Bar Room Blues 1932 Jimmie Rodgers
Bill from Erskineville 1972 John Dengate
Before The Curtain Call – John Morris and Craig Lyons
Salty Dog 1900 folk song

Recent Gigs – All in Australia:
The Woodford Folk Festival
The Blue Mountains Folk Festival
The Australian Blues Festival
The Sunshine Coast Blues Festival
The East Coast Blues and Roots Festival
The West Coast Blues and Roots Festival
The Cairns Blues Festival
The Gympie Muster
Sell Out shows at the Vanguard and Raval
Successful tours of WA, QLD and VIC.

Discography:
“Next Stop Beulah Land” 2008
“Dry Long So” 2009
“Dead Catz Can Bounce” 2010
Available through: www.onlybluesmusic.com
or order online at: www.bluespreachers.com
or as a digital download from iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/au/album/dead-catz-can-bounce/id367229720


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