Saturday, 15 October 2016

Blue Breeze

by Livin’ Blues

For me, Blue Breeze, released 40 years ago (I can’t find an exact date, does it really matter?), was a revelation, if not the revelation. I heard blues before, but this was my first encounter with the band so dedicated to blues. And, of all blues bands out there, neither American nor British but Dutch. How cool is that? Very cool, I say. Very underrated too, and not that well known, even in The Hague.

Here’s the story: A childhood friend of mine asked me and my brother to look after a stack of her (or, rather, her “crazy” mum’s) vinyls throughout the summer of 1977. Those included records by ABBA, Puhdys, assorted rock’n’roll compilations and two strange albums pressed in Poland, viz. Live ’75 and Blue Breeze. All of the summer passed without us ever taking those latter two out of their sleeves. And then, a day or two before returning them, we finally decided to give them a go. What a discovery! Unfortunately, we had only one spare reel of magnetic tape in the house, and there was no way to acquire another one in the remaining hours. So. Blue Breeze, it was decided, in a hope to catch up with Live ’75 some other time which, naturally, never came. Amazingly, that reel, still playable, stayed with me until early ’90s.

A few years later, I got hold of most of Livin’ Blues back catalogue reissued on CDs. Still, Blue Breeze is my favourite record of the band as well as one of my favourite blues-rock (or, indeed, any) records of all time. If you’ve never heard it, find it and listen to it.

Blue Breeze

Side A

  1. Shylina (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      A blues-rock-waltz that never fails to give me goosebumps.
  2. Back Stage (J. Fredriksz, R. Meyes)
    • They really knew how to craft a rock ballad.
  3. Midnight Blues (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Humourous country(ish) style blues.
  4. Pisces (T. Oberg)
      An instrumental of almost unbearable beauty.
  5. Bus 29 (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Since I first heard this song, I wanted to ride the bus #29 for no (other) reason.

Side B

  1. Blue Breeze (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Vinyls have two sides for a reason. You see, one can’t simply stick a blues of epic proportions like this one in the middle of a record. It just has to be a (or, in this case, b) side opener.
  2. Pick Up On My Mojo (Johnny Winter)
      Trust me, the only track not composed by the band members is every bit as good as the original. Or better.
  3. That Night (A. Reijnen, J. v. Heiningen, J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      Featuring one of the finest rock bass solos I ever heard, this song, together with the title track’s bass line, is probably responsible for me ever trying my hand at electric bass.
  4. Black Jack Dilly (J. Fredriksz, T. Oberg)
      A rocker of a song with rather silly lyrics.

  5. John Fredriksz: vocals and backing vocals
    André Reijnen: bass guitar
    Jacob v. Heiningen: drums
    Ted Oberg: electric and acoustic guitars, dobro, banjo and electric sitar
    Margriet Eshuys and Maggie Mc Neal: backing vocals on Bus 29
    Martin Agterberg: additional keyboards

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