Blues Matters Magazine

 John O'Leary Band CD "Sins" JOL CD001


John O’Leary is part of British Blues history. He was a founder member of Savoy Brown, one of the top bands in the late sixties “blues boom”.  There can’t be very many bluesers of any consequence that John hasn’t played with over the last 5 decades. He has recently been very supportive of Andy Cortes, one of our many blossoming starlets.  He has also been busy with his own band comprising some of the top musicians playing today.

On this CD John is joined by Joachim Greve on drums, Dave Hadley-Ray on bass (albeit no longer in the band), Dominique Vantomme on keyboards and Jules Fothergill on guitar. Jules has also done a thorough job in producing the CD.  The album starts with an echo of the past with Early In The Morning followed by a couple of sings from Savoy Brown days. Snatch It Back & Hold It (really catchy) and I’m Tired (written by Chris Youlden). The latter features the first of several guests, none other than Dave Walker, who had stints with both Savoy Brown and Fleetwood Mac.  Very effective he is here too with some nice harsh singing.  The other familiar songs are Black Cat Bone and a truly gorgeous version of Who’s Been Talking.  This is a beautiful gentle, soulful interpretation with some delicate guitar from Jules and economical harp and plaintive vocals from John, whose repetition of “I’m the cause of it all” at the end is full of guilt, sadness and self-recrimination.

There are also 7 top quality new compositions here though and everyone has contributed.  Blue Water is the first.  Jointly written by John and Jules it features an aggressive guitar intro in an urgent percussive undercurrent to John asking the blue water to was his sins away.  An inventive arrangement of a really good song.  Added attraction comes in the form of the always excellent Lorna Reilly who shares vocal duties with John. Lorna also provides support vocals on Waiting For You (again O’Leary/Fothergill) which also features another guest Tim O’Sullivan on lead guitar. Tim also contributes to the instrumental “And Everything”.  This is a jazz-tinged tune with effective changes of pace.  It is especially noteworthy for the fact that John does not appear on it, emphasing that this is a BAND.  A second instrumental is intriguingly called Chiswick Roundabout.  It features significant drum patterns from Joachim and harmonica melodies from John interlaced with some interesting rhythm grooves from Jules and Dominique.  Move Away and House of Ice are more new numbers.  Move Away featuring competitive solos from Jules and Tim.  Jules really is a wonderful exponent of the slide and this is amply demonstrated here.  House of Ice in particular is a very fine song. Written by Jules.  John sings bitterly of an icy relationship in which he has been treated harshly.  It builds up to a brisk finale and bodes well for a storming live version.  The final track Save My Soul is a departure from the rest of the CD with a gospel sound from the addition of gorgeous backing vocals from New Zealander Rietta Austin. Different certainly, superbly performed. Overall, a very satisfying CD which deserves to do very well. John himself is clearly still at the top of his game and I have undersold the contribution of Dominique Vantomme who is featured throughout to great effect whether on piano organ.  Jules has brought it all together very professionally to complete a top quality product…..Alan Harvey

 .....the new name for the john o'leary band