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The Russ Tippins Electric Band - Electrickery

Arty Music Productions

10 tracks/52:53

The promotional material that accompanied this release touts guitarist Russ Tippins as a popular performer in the North East section of England, due in large part to his well regarded solo acoustic set. For this release, Tippins favors the blues/rock power trio format that was the rage in England during the 1960s when bands like the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream ruled the airwaves along with the Who and Led Zeppelin, also power trios that featured a singer as the front man.

Tippins pays respect to the past on the opening track, a straightforward cover of the Hendrix tune “Freedom” with John Dawson contributing a pounding bass line and drummer Ian Halford matching him with a strong beat. Things pick up on the next song, “Little Josephine”, with a potent vocal from the leader over a guitar line that harks back to the Peter Gunn theme. Tippins delivers another stellar vocal on “Comeuppance” that is matched by his furious slide guitar playing. While the pace slows on the ballad “She’s Gone”, the band maintains the intensity level as Tippins alternates blues licks with power chords and some rapid-fire picking.

Tippins injects little twists and variations into each song that hold your interest even when his lyrics fail to match the quality of his arrangements. “Number Thirteen” is one cut where the band’s enthusiasm and soaring voice carry the day.

“This Building’s on Fire” is a high octane rockabilly romp that gives Tippins a chance to demonstrate his dexterity with the guitar, firing off notes so fast that at times your ears will struggle to keep up with what he is playing. Even at the frantic pace, Tippins manages to play creative lines that make this track a highlight.

The rhythm section lays down a nice shuffle beat on “Chuck It” that the leader uses as a springboard for more tasty guitar work as he belts out his tale of the downward spiral of his life. The guitar intro to the title track reaffirms Tippins debt to the Hendrix legacy before the tune shifts to a hard, funky groove that Tippins rides with clean, fluid lines that also echo the Carlos Santana guitar style. “Lawrence” is a stadium rock anthem with Tippins delivering a masterful vocal performance. At times on this track, the band sounds like a hard rocking version of Journey (a comparison meant only in the most positive sense) with Tippins’ voice soaring over the music.

“Indy Boogie” is just that – a hard rockin’ tribute to the band’s experience at a festival in the Indiana city that featured a storm, power outage and plenty of great people. Tippins throws an AC/DC lick into his solo and once again sings with lots of energy. The disc closes with an listed bonus track – a tribute to Led Zeppelin as the band covers “The Lemon Song”. Again, Tippins doesn’t stray to far from the original version but he shows that his impressive vocal range comes close to matching a youthful Robert Plant.

This one is not for the blues purists. Tippins is an outstanding singer and songwriter with a style that is definitely more rock than blues. But if you enjoy some variety in your musical playlist – and especially if you are a member of the original Woodstock generation – Russ Tippins offers a look back to the days when rock music really did rock. This disc held up through repeated listens and is worth checking out.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.

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