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Chris Collins & Blues Etc. - I Ain’t No Guitar Slinger

Fuzzy Pig Records

Southampton is a large city on the south coast of England. It’s the place all the big tourist ships sail to and from and is forever associated with the RMS Titanic which left on her ill-fated journey from the port. There must be something in the water in that area for there seems to me, to be more blues fans and blues musicians in that city and its sub-divisions, than in practically any other in the United Kingdom. There is also a phenomenal number of top-rate blues bands, few better than Chris Collins and Blues Etc.

Chris, an axe man of the first order (despite the modesty of the title of this CD) works in Europe and the UK and has backed or supported numerous visiting American Blues Artists including Billy Boy Arnold, Sonny Rhodes, Magic Slim, John Primer and Koko Taylor. Chris started his musical career in 1992 after forming Southampton band ‘The Bluescasters’. After a year playing local gigs around the Southampton area, Chris joined The Bob Pearce Band in 1993. Although for a number of years after that Chris remained associated with Bob Pearce, also a Southampton blues guitarist and singer songwriter, Chris now fronts his own band Blues Etc (say Blues Etcetera). The band specializes in Chicago and West Coast blues, as well as soul and rock 'n' roll and this is their third album. Although in live gigs, the band perform some covers, one of the major strengths of their shows is that a good deal of the material they present is stuff written by Chris himself. No mean song writer, his ‘Cheatin’ On The Man You’re Cheatin’ With’, was recorded by C.J. Chenier on his Alligator Records release ‘The Big Squeeze’, and all of this CD is Chris’s own songsmithing.

Joined, as he is in gigs, by harp man Pete Welland, drummer Steve Faithful, and bass man Darren Stevens, the band gives you just what they say they will; fifteen tracks of high quality blues based music, all, as noted above, originals. Often sharing the floor with other Southampton musicians, the tracks include Cajun based stuff (‘Text Me’) that comes with super atmospheric accordion from Ray Drury), through the soulful ‘Knock On My Door’ with a great and all too brief sax solo from Steve Taylor, to a nicely ironic song ‘Too Old To Cut The Mustard’ with a really Muddyesque slide part from Chris’s old boss, Bob Pearce.

Chris is into irony; the CD title is a sly (and ironic) reference to a 1984 album by Johnny Winter (Guitar Slinger) which, like much of Winter’s stuff is a triumph of technique over soul. Not so with Chris. So, no thousand notes a minute stuff here, but thoughtful and skilful axe work (including some slide work too) plus soulful and controlled singing. Check out  for proof.

The song writing is exemplary and if anyone out there is looking for new stuff for the set list, you could do much worse than this.

Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer and has a webcast regular blues radio show on Phonic FM in Exeter (1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

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