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Album, Single and EP Reviews

 

  Again and Again by Zen Blues Quartet

Again and Again cover art

Artist: Zen Blues Quartet
Title: Again and Again
Catalogue Number: Shunyata Records
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2007


After my review of the first Zen Blues Quartet CD, Bluesbunny Towers received an email from John March, guitarist of said quartet. As well thanking me for a nice review, John claimed that 'The new [CD] is ten bazillion times better'. So, armed with my Northern Rock Book of Numbers this Bunny tries to find out how much a bazillion is.

Starting strong with the smoking shuffle of "What a Life", new boy Mike Finnigan's rhythmic Hammond Organ balances on top of the solid bass and drums of Tim Scott and Steve Ferrone respectively. This opener is peppered with Memphis Horns style brass stabs, and topped off with Mike's powerful BB King style vocals. Shifting pace later, and showing that range of styles which sets the Zen Blues Quartet apart, "Reeling in the Years" finds the guys in a more soulful mood. Going beyond the standard soul/blues fair however, this track adds extra depth and colour with glorious and lush vocal harmonies during the chorus, which reminds me of the best of the Flo and Eddie period Zappa. Further on, and throwing a curve ball, is the decidedly funky tip of "Let A Woman Be A Woman". Tightly held together with a loping, off-kilter drum line, and topped off with a soaring vocal line which includes Tim's decidedly James Brown-ish calls and adlibs, I defy a Bluesbunny (or any bunny for that matter) not to want to shake his or (preferably) her tail. The highlight for me is their version of the classic standard "Grits Ain't Groceries". A funky and jagged rhythm guitar underpins the whole song and the horn section flexes its muscles in this timeless blues arrangement that shows that if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

As on the first Zen Blues Quartet recording, the beautifully polished production makes this CD shine. Using a very British reference, "This is not just a CD; this is a (M&S) Zen Blues Quartet CD". I still hold on to my reserve that the polished veneer of the production and arrangements won't suit all blues fans, but whether this record is a 'bazillion' times better than the first Zen Blues CD is a close call. Maybe you should buy both and make up your own mind…


www.zenbluesmusic.com
Reviewer:
Review Date: January 14, 2008