Wednesday, 26 November 2008
CD Review - Mike Markey & Nick Jones
Heads of the Valleys
By M.D. Spenser
One hates to be too negative about this album, because both of these Welch sidemen are highly competent players. But competent can be a damning word in music.
The best bluesmen – all of them – have brought something original to the table. Not so here.
Mike Markey & Nick Jones have backed the likes of Water Trout and Zoot Money. Out on their own on this album, they offer typical prewar two-man Blues: One guy on acoustic guitar and slide, the other on harmonica and vocals.
Jones’ imitations of the guitar styles of Robert Johnson and other old-time greats are skilful. Markey’s harp playing is equally so, although his singing sounds deeply rooted in the white experience.
There are fast songs, slow songs, humorous songs and songs where they perform the old trick of having the slide and vocals track exactly. But nothing makes you sit up and take notice.
They do a cover of ‘Fishin’ Blues’, but if you think this matches Taj Mahal’s version – talk about original personalities – you’re mistaken. Not even close.
The music here, while well-played, is indistinguishable from any number of artists on any number of albums. Something’s missing, and it’s this: Markey and Jones have completely neglected to include anywhere in their music something of themselves.