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Severn (SEVCD56)

Too Much, Who You're Workin' For, Damn Good Time, Bring Your Sister, Send For Me, Minimum Wage, Georgia Slop, Night Work, Let's Work Together, Smack Dab In The Middle, Down To My Last Million Tears, Heartbreak Shake.

A new album from a roadhouse R&B band that has been at it since 1972 when formed in Washington DC by guitarist Jimmy Thackery and harmonica player Mark Wenner.

Jimmy Thackery left as far back as 1986 to pursue his successful solo career but Wenner has ploughed on through a variety of line ups and changing fortunes. I must confess to have lost touch over recent incarnations of the band, a fact brought home to me recently when re-watching the box set of The Wire as they popped up in a scene in one episode as the bar band (and rather good they were too).

So it comes as a pleasant surprise to discover that after all this time, they can still deliver a sprightly and refreshing album of honest-to-goodness r&b of the muscular but unpretentious kind.

What we get is 12 tracks of well chosen covers and a few originals that heavily feature the swooping and swinging gob iron of Wenner and a band of tasteful and skilful musicians - being Paul Bell on guitars, Johnny Castle on bass and Mark Stutso on drums. The only thing not specified is who does what in the vocals department - never a major strength within the band but  with the material and playing being this good, it all fits together nicely !

Highlights start early and just keep on coming - I just love the second track, Who You're Workin' For, a rollicking little number that just keeps on moving and with some fantastic, if paranoid, lyrics. I would imagine that this is exactly the kind of song that Lee Brilleaux would be leading Dr Feelgood through if he was still up and running.   

Straight up next is the title track, a white-soul heartbreaker that may just well be the greatest John Hiatt song that John Hiatt didn't actually write! It really is  good enough to stand alongside his best songs, and the band's delivery is right on the money. Later on there's a rather fine cover of Smack Dab In The Middle followed by one of the best originals on show, Down To My Last Million Tears, a Louisiana R&B style blues ballad that could easily stand alongside the songs written by one of the big song-writing teams from back in the day.

A highly enjoyable album all round, one of those rare beasts that I don't think I'll tire of listening to. 


Review Date: August 2012

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