Blues & Rhythm Magazine
By Norman Darwen
Blues & Rhythm Magazine
Don't Mess With Texas/ Rockin' And Moanin' At Midnight/ If Your Ship Don't Come In/ Has The World Gone Mad?/ Dressin' Trashy/ Lie To Me/ Welfare System/ Wad Of Money/ Leave It Where It's At/ Play Them Blues/ I'm Coming Home/ The Song A Bluesman Sings
Neo-Classic? Wasn't Nat involved with free jazz in France? How come he describes the opening number as 'rock-blues'? And just what is he doing quoting Ernest Hemingway? OK, OK, don't worry – this is the Nat Dove who was the subject of an absolutely fascinating interview in 'Blues Unlimited' around 30 years ago, who played piano on Little Johnny Taylor's 'Part Time Love' and has in the intervening years worked with the likes of Big Mama Thornton, Freddy King, George Smith, Lowell Fulson, Pee Wee Crayton, Big Joe Turner, Robert Cray, Lonesome Sundown and many, many others, including Phillip Walker with whom he has toured the UK. The Neo-Classic Blues Ensemble comprises Johnny Dyer on harp, guitarist Charlie Tichenor, bassist Tim Jones (replaced by Ernie Tichenor on one number) and Johnny Tucker on drums – so no complaints on that score.
The aforementioned 'rock-blues' opener starts with some loud guitar but quickly evolves into a joyously rocking, breezily boastful bluesy theme song with some lovely piano work and a strong vocal performance from Nat himself. Hemingway is the inspiration for a line in the second number, not that anyone would know if Nat himself hadn't told us; this is a powerful down-home blues that could have been recorded at any time in the last 55 years or so. As the CD progresses, it continues to produce the goods in fine fashion. Try 'Has The World Gone Mad?', the kind of slow, doomy number that George Smith would have tackled to wonderful effect, and the lyric content is certainly ecologically sound. 'Dressin' Trashy' is a jaunty Texas shuffle with plenty of real blues guitar and lyrics that were inspired by seeing Dolly Parton interviewed on television, 'Lie To Me' is a mid-tempo, piano and rhythm blues with another strong vocal and some excellent rolling playing from Nat, 'Welfare System' is a short, punchy blues detailing how bureaucracy is breaking up Nat's family, and 'Wad Of Money' reminds me strongly of Memphis Slim in down-home mode, even down to the spoken introduction. 'Leave It Where It's At' is a jaunty shuffle based around the traditional 'the blacker the berry…' couplet, whereas 'Play Them Blues' is really an excuse for Charlie and Johnny Dyer to show off their licks, 'I'm Coming Home' is a mid tempo 'on the road' blues and then this excellent CD draws to a close with a fine, tough slab of down home sounds. This may not be the 'real Texas blues piano' of say, a Buster Pickens, but as there is so little newly-recorded piano blues material around these days, this is worthy of your attention. The fact that this is such an accomplished and enjoyable CD as well makes it even more so.