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MAT WALKLATE & PAOLO FUSCHI

KICKING UP THE DUST

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Walklate & Fuschi (WF0001)

Ain’t No Big Deal On You, Goin’ Down Slow, As Long As I Have You, Nothin’ But Love, Trouble No More, Fat Man, Don’t You Know Me, Black Cat Bone, Oh Babe (Sick And Tired)/Man In The Street and Money.

Sounding very much like they have spent their entire musical lives playing together, Mat Walkate and Paolo Fuschi actually only met for the first time in Manchester in 2014, bonding over a shared love of post-war electric blues.

With Mat on harmonica and vocals and Sicilian Paolo on guitars and vocals, this 10 track collaboration is, for the most part, a feast of authentic sounding blues, the like of which would have been heard in the clubs and on the streets of Chicago in the late 1940s and early 1950s. If you have any attachment to the early, pre-Chess records of Moody Jones, John Brim, Floyd Jones, Johnny Shines and the rest, then listen here to the scintillating version of Little Walter’s As Long As I Have You or Muddy’s Trouble No More and I’d expect you to be impressed. They also blow new life into the St Louis Jimmy Oden classic, Goin’ Down Slow, and offer up a moody but magnificent version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Black Cat Bone.

Given that it is only the two of them that play on the album, it is a testament to their musical abilities that the sound is so rich and varied, with something interesting seemingly always on the go. But it is probably the quality of the vocals that ultimately elevate these guys above the crowd, both presenting as they do a natural and unforced method of delivery that impresses throughout.

And to sit alongside their blues chops, there are also a couple of nicely presented numbers that take the same guitars and harmonicas only approach to a couple of enjoyable ska numbers. Their version of Derrick Morgan’s Fat Man is a bright and breezy joy, while the Oh Babe (Sick And Tired)/ Man In The Street medley is an under-stated gem of a harmonica-showcase which, at over seven minutes long, never threatens to out-stay its welcome.

A fabulous album from an excellent duo that should have a big future.

Review Date: June 2016

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