Off at 11 –  JD Simo (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I didn’t even know that people made albums like this any more…I’m glad that they do though. Off at 11 is the sound of fifties blues being pushed into a 70’s psychedelic blender, much as the likes of Hendrix and Beefheart actually did back in the day. The music is dense yet wonderfully intricate, meandering but not unfocused, exploratory yet accessible. It is the sound of a band revelling in the pure joy of playing and just seeing where it takes them, the perfect balance between the improvisational and the structured, the jam ethic and the planned sonic journey.

Blues aficionados, the purists at least, might be put off by the weight of the music, this is definitely rock music forged from blues strands, the guitar sound is raw edged and the music wanders down some interesting sonic pathways, the same pathways trodden variously by the likes of ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan even some of the British Invasion wave of players as well as the aforementioned Jimi and Donny.

Tracks such as Temptation are classic, drifting and soulful blues but much of the tone of the album is set by real growlers such as You Need Love, an updated take on The Yardbirds perhaps and the opening salvo Boom Boom Out Go the Lights, the classic Little Walter standard but here heavier, more claustrophobic, more cavernous more…well, just more. Off at 11’s more exploratory and free form side is perfectly summed up with closing number Accept, a long and sultry groover where the air between the lyrics and the chords is sweet with the smell of illicit acts and the weight of history, the perfect acid laced swan song for an album which is both ripe with nostalgia and a potential catalyst for a new wave of blues fans to coalesce around.

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