Being new to Steve Hill, who in his native Canada is already three studio albums into his career, it seems that his first live CD provides a good introduction to this no nonsense rocking Blues artist. That said, the album title is surely the most accurate description of what is to be found on this fourteen track collection. Recorded in Quebec in late November 2017, it does, as they say, “exactly what it says on the tin”.
When thinking of a one man band, the first image that came to my mind were the buskers at the London Underground tube stations which I used to see every night on my way home from work, however, they never sounded like this! Electric guitar, percussion, harmonica and vocals from one person all at the same time, as I said the clue is in the title. With no need to concentrate on individual players, you get drawn into what a remarkable sound one extremely talented artist can make. Surely seeing this artist in a live setting must be something to behold.
From the two rocky openers of ‘Rhythm All Over’ and ‘Go On’ complete with fuzzy guitars and foot stomping catchiness, it is obvious that Steve Hill knows how to please his audience right from the off. The classic style Blues of ‘The Collector’ and ‘Damned’ showcase another talent in his considerable arsenal when his vocals drop to a low down and dirty ZZ Top style drawl, which for the most part remains for the rest of the album, perfectly suiting the material here.
Things get more stripped down for ‘Tough Luck’ to give a Mississippi Delta feel with a simple guitar and harmonica replacing the all-out rocking feel of what’s gone on before. The audience who seem to have been lost in the mix on the previous track return for ‘Never is Such a Long Time’, another very Bluesy song showcasing some very impressive solos, it sees SH clearly in his element and clocking in at over six minutes long it leaves the listener wondering can this really be the work of just one man? It really is that impressive!
Much more up-tempo, but no less astounding, ‘Hate To See You Go’, builds up to such a pace, just to play it must feel like the equivalent of running a marathon. The guitar sounds superb and the crowd lap it up. A rest is clearly needed and this is provided by ‘Emily’, a melodic, boy meets girl, mid paced rocker which has radio air play written all over it. Surely if a single is to be released, this sing-a-long classic in the making is the one. Lowdown, harmonica driven, delta Blues returns for ‘Nothing New’, possibly the slowest song on the CD and while it doesn’t deserve the label filler track, the title does seem rather appropriate and as such, adds little to the excellent feel of the album so far.
Strange then, that although the slow pace continues, ‘Out Of Phase’, is a wonderfully subtle song with simple guitar hook. It’s one of the stand-out tracks here and is probably my personal favourite. ‘Still Got it Bad’ amps up the guitar for a much more traditional Blues feel. A song about lost love which sounds like a four piece band playing rather than a one man tour de force. The best title of the CD goes to ‘The Ballad of Johnny Wabo’ ,another slow burner which builds to a full out hand clapping, fist pumping, foot stomping romp. This is the song that makes buying a ticket for his upcoming tour a must!
Penultimate track ‘Dangerous’ returns us to a much more rocky road, a real blast of a song with a cracking chorus, sure to be a real crowd pleaser. We finish off with a seven minute version of the Hendrix classic ‘Voodoo Child’ which although shows off the multi talents of SH is probably best seen in a live setting and feels slightly unnecessary for the purposes of a live CD. Another original song would have been better suited here to close out the album.
So, a great introduction to a new talent that it’s only taken twenty years to discover. With studio albums finally released in the UK and an extensive tour supporting both King King and Danny Bryant well under way, one would suspect that Steve Hill’s star is about to shine very brightly indeed.