Well here’s a novel way to promote yourself during Lockdown 2.0. Launch an album online with an augmented band (strictly less than six members) to play tracks live. Intersperse some interview footage and employ a warm-up band, the Brighton heavy rockers the Dead Reds and, hey Presto, you’ve got yourself a virtual gig.
Genre-bending Mike Ross’s output can only be described as Chemical Brothers in a social bubble with the Allman Brothers; throw in a bit of John Squire on Second coming-era Stone Roses and you begin to get close to this guy’s oeuvre.
‘Thanks A Lot’ is opening choice for this gig and also the album, which begins with a portentous electronica-infused passage (think Death in Vegas), before transforming into strident R&B, that channels the Coaster’s ‘Yakety-Yak’ style vocal, but with a more insistent beat.
‘Tell Jerry’, a tribute to Country singer Jerry Red, exhibits a high-pitched wail of the guitar, which imbues the track with a souped-up oriental feel. A pause for breath allows Mike to introduce the band featuring Jade ‘Like the Stone’ Williams on backing vocals, Stevie ‘Keys’ Watts on organ (stalwart of the London R&B circuit, plus Darren Lee on drums and Dan Lyons on bass (who both manage to keep time perfectly on this rhythmically diverse session). The pace changes with frazzled weariness demonstrated on the ‘The Loser’, which weaves into mellifluous slide-work on ‘Leviathan’.
The album, on the whole, showcases Mike as a versatile guitarist in the Allman Brothers-mould and their influence is no more telling than on the Jessica-inspired instrumental ‘The Unforgiven’, but then the mood changes down the line when you get the machine-gun attack of ‘Shoot You If You Run’, a song about deception.
With the show being broadcast from Brighton, local band The Dead Reds provided a suitable warm-up, beginning their set with a song for our times entitled ‘Shut it Down’, with some glorious flute-playing and one could mistake the Mike Ross dead-ringer vocalist and guitar player to be the main man himself (as this reviewer did when entering the online stream midway!)
Mike Ross’s current single is ‘Don’t Say a Word’, but I’m afraid the secret is out: this guy from the UK is a serious contender in the modern Southern-Rock stakes.
Ivan De Mello