Nothing says 'Grand Era' like a really good piece of art-nouveau psychedelic painting, and The Jimmy Bowskill Band Live sports a great canvas, giving a very accurate sense of things from the git-go. Ruf Records wanted no mistakes and took a rather skillful hand in presenting this 60s/70s blues/rock/psych guitarist properly from the very moment eye meets packaging. When you come across this disc, the first thought that arises is "Fillmore East!" or "Joshua Light Show!", maybe even "East Village Other!" or "Free Press!".
Jimmy Bowskill's playing immediately yanks the listener back to the days of T.S. McPhee (Groundhogs), Leigh Stephens (Blue Cheer, Thunder and Roses, solo), John Simms (Clear Blue Sky), Keith Cross (T.2), and a score of others now cherished by Boomers and studied by the up and coming generation of fretbenders. Though Jimmy plunges into Fleetwood Mac's Rattlesnake Shake no sooner than the second track, he's not a Peter Green-type player, much more the Rory Gallagher cum Paul Kossoff type, dubbing in a heavy-duty rock element a la Rory's old band Taste. Then he tackles Free's gem, Walk in my Shadow, and indemnifies it, taking things even further with killer Kossoff progressions in Loser. Bowskill's own materials, however, which constitute nearly three-quarters of the songs here, fold nicely into the entire milieu and in fact show us that all he consumes, he makes his own.
Dan Neill keeps a crucial pace on drums while Wayne Deadder on bass favors a more participative approach than most in this style, both of them punctuating and embedding Bowskill's bravura chords and riffs. The entire enterprise is exhilaratingly thick and heavy, with long solos a la Jimmy Page and Hendrix—not to mention Frank Marino and Robin Trower; old wonts carrying tons of inventiveness packed-in with the same guts and brains that marked the old days as a revolution in the arts, a time when derring-do and risk-taking were the operative words. But, yeah, there's also an appreciable degree of thud 'n groan as well, a la Blue Cheer (Broke Down Engine) crouching down into Mother Earth before leaping for the clouds. In sum, this is a flashback to when times were free-er, commerciality was a secondary concern (if that), and a lot of artists were letting their freak flags fly. If I didn't tell you it was pressed in 2010, you'd swear it was from the glory days.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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