James Oliver Band – Twang

Album Review | Last Music Company | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Former Glas guitarist James Oliver explodes onto a busy rock and blues scene with a fine debut packed with American cars, twangy guitars, burning Elmore James slide licks and a no nonsense Hugh Cornwell “Go Buddy Go” vocal.  Oliver’s retro rock is handled with respect, his influences worn openly and his flaming guitar the focal point throughout, though there are one or two moments where the guitar moves aside for some rich collaboration, notably band mate Billy Lee Williams’ Zydeco accordion flurries on “Stay Outta Trouble”. 

In just over thirty minutes, the eleven selections hardly pause for breath, each a powerhouse performance, where volume and tempo are in competition with one another throughout, even the two instrumentals “The Missing Link” and the album closer “Misirlou”, a live favourite, especially for Quentin Tarantino fans.  The Robert Johnson opening to “Clean House” momentarily suggests a respite from the up-tempo energy-driven programme, only for the foot to hit the accelerator but a few seconds in.  For the best part the songs are self-penned or in collaboration with Dawson Smith, however there are a couple of Big Joe Turner blues shouters, “Honey Hush” and the Elmore James fuelled “TV Mama” for balance.   

Choice Track: Stay Outta Trouble (NSV 503)