Pete Gavin "Shanghai Rainbow"

Label: Redox Records; No.Rdx 1053-04; 2004; Playing time: 47.46 min

It is true to say the continent of Europe is a strange place, in that performers in the English language who you'd logically think would "break" first in the British Isles, often remain relatively unknown there, whilst making an impact in mainland Europe. This happens in all the relevant art forms, and a blues performer like Pete Gavin is no exception.

Here he has come up with an album of throbbing, rocking blues music: an album that takes no prisoners. His dobro and electric slide guitars (not to forget his harmonica) all provide authoritative support to his "non-shrinking violet" of-a-voice, in an album of - I think - largely self-penned numbers though truth is that the very inadequate liner notes gave no clue to the authorship of the songs: it just referred the reader to Pete's website, which proved frustratingly reluctant to yield-up (to my computer, at least) any information-of-value.

He is backed by "Pick Stevens aus Shanghai" on bass guitar and other guitars. And by a drummer who really earns his corn: Christophe von Knobelsdorff. This guy must have been dripping with sweat at the end of the session! His powerful drumming at all times helping to keep the show on the road.

I quite enjoyed the whole thing. The best track is the opener "Rainbow Coloured Day" (which he chooses also to close with): I liked it for its piquant dobro, and also because I understood all the lyrics. Alas I did not get all the words of the other songs.

Which leads on to a thought. And it is this: one should never bemoan liner notes containing printed lyrics!

For instance, in this batch of CDs for review by me, were two by the American David Munyan. Now his diction is so good, that I did not need to read a word of the lyrics provided in both liner notes: and I immediately thought "if only he had used this space to write more on what PROMPTED him to write this song!". But then I felt ashamed of such short-sighted thinking: I realised it was incumbent upon me to remember that much of his audience do not have English as a first language, so naturally would not have my ease-of-comprehension.

Now with Pete Gavin, it is clear that he is a native English speaker. But for this Reviewer, at least, maybe 10% of his words proved a puzzle. And if they did for me, what chance the non-native speaker? So let's have the lyrics next time, please Pete.

As for my conclusion regarding the merits or otherwise of the CD, I would say if hard, throbbing blues (more "Chicago" than "Delta") is your thing, then Pete is your man. And if it isn't, then you could still do worse than put this on your stereo at your next party.

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