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Mark Easton – Grind

Plastic Donut Records 2012

10 tracks – 42.22 minutes

Mark Easton is an Australian bluesman who has released live albums in the past but for this project he played all instruments. The album has six original songs and four covers. Opening track “Moving On” features Mark’s gruff vocals over an insistent riff on steel guitar, drums that bring to mind North Mississippi and some nice guitar embellishments. “My Baby Gets What She Wants” is more aggressive, Mark’s vocals taking on a threatening tone which finds a match in the guitars, both slide and electric double tracked together. “April Morning” is an acoustic track which makes a good contrast with the preceding songs.

Covers of “Evil Woman” (Canned Heat) and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (Sonny Boy Williamson) follow but I’m afraid that neither worked well for me. In the first song there are a variety of guitars, one of which is a wah-wah effect that did not seem to fit well; the second is one of those ‘standard’ blues songs that we hear all too often and this version adds nothing new. Mark’s harmonica opens proceedings over a slowed down rhythm and a vocal that ends up being more creepy than lustful. Returning to his own material “Monkey” is an amusing slide-driven piece about evolution and “How Do You Sleep At Night?” a brooding tune in which the singer is clearly obsessed by his woman. The final original is entitled “Beach Bumming” but there is no sign of The Beach Boys here as Mark speaks rather than sings the lyrics over a repetitive riff.

The CD closes with two covers. “Camioux” was a new song to me but my research indicated that it comes from a German duo called Boozoo Bayou who are described as being “noted for their distinct blend of Dub sounds with eclectic rhythms” and this version has some of those features. It is no surprise that Hound Dog Taylor is an influence on Mark’s work so it is fitting that the closing track is a cover of “Let’s Get Funky”. The energetic drumming and frantic slide guitar are very typical of Hound Dog and the track works well.

Playing all the instruments on an album is no mean feat and hats off to Mark Easton for his endeavors here. If you enjoy the blues of artists like RL Burnside and Hound Dog Taylor this could be a discovery for you.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a Blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and recently enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival.

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