Well, the first indication of what you're in for is the fact that Mike Vernon (to whom all praise—yea verily!—for the unbelievably cool Fleetwood Mac: Complete Blue Horizon 1867-1969 box he produced in '99, which I've damn near worn down to a set of plastic nubs) produced this disc. Vernon's name is synonymous with quality in blues rock, and the guy has a long history with Chicken Shack, John Mayall, Savoy Brown, Ten Years After, and many others. Oli Brown, appearing in pinstripe Carnabey Street habiliment, gives a visual cue that Heads I Win, Tails You Lose will be a set of tracks appropriately in the classic vein, and that's exactly right.
I'd place his style closer to Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown) than anyone else, and the young gent's singing is mindful of later bluesrockers like The Homewreckers and The Hoax—coincidentally enough, the former produced by Simmonds, the latter co-pro-ed by Vernon. You just can't keep the 70s down! But Brown embraces a very uncluttered era-sound and balances his compositions between guitar playing and melodic vocal lines. Bolstering the very obvious dirty white boy blues of it all, he practices a Chicago-by-way-of-London sound observing the same brand of fidelities that Clapton favored while with the Bluesbreakers, later broken out in Cream and etc. but always mindful of where the sound came from. Thus, expect more than a little of the feel and phrasing of Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, and Bobby Parker.
Of course, there's also a jazzy blues side, as in Not a Word I Can Say, containing the most emphatic vocalise as well. And did I mention Brown is just 19? Yeah, he is. What are mothers feeding their children nowadays that they're getting so hip so young? Regardless, put this guy beside Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd for burning young talent promising even more as the years roll by. There are only just so many every so often, but when they pop up, they tend to make a splash.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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