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The latest album The Other Side
A review of the album from Blues Enthused Iain Cameron
Sunday, January 29, 2017
You can’t beat a bit of good home cooking, can you? A big, satisfying beef casserole maybe, made with love and the best of ingredients, perfectly seasoned and with a bouquet garni chucked in for extra flavour. Dished up on a proper plate, with a hefty serving of mashed spuds to soak up the gravy. Sounds pretty good to me.
What’s all this about, you’re asking? I’ll tell you what. I’m talking about the kind of pleasure I get from listening to The Stumble cook up a storm on The Other Side. None of your teenage guitar sensations, fancy-dan producers for hire or big name collaborators necessary here. This is no nonsense, honest to goodness R&B, delivered with passion, imagination, and buckets of musical nous by a bunch of old lags based in Lancashire who sound like they’re having a ball.
The Other Side is an ensemble piece for sure, but the obvious place to start is with singer Paul Melville. If there’s a sandpaper rasp to Melville's voice, it’s of the finest grade, as he lends a towering, soul-shaking dimension to each of the various blues and rock’n’roll styles explored by chief songwriter and drummer Boyd Tonner and the rest of the gang.
And it sure is a varied collection. It ranges from the stonking boogie woogie of opener ‘New Orleans’, with honky tonk piano from guest keys man Justin Randall, to the Madness-like bopping rhythm of ‘Only You’, emphasised by the honking sax of Simon Anthony Dixon; from the crooning Fifties rock’n’roll of ‘Under Your Command’, with its sweet slide guitar, to the country-tinged folk of ‘One True Rock’ with Celtic fiddle from Richard Curran.
In between all of these diversions there’s plenty of towering, expansive R&B, epitomised by the blast that is ‘Be My Slave’, while on ‘Freedom Like A Woman’ some Bruce Hornsby like piano frills give way to a scorching guitar solo from Colin Black, like Tonner a founder member of the band. It’s not the only time Black gets let off the leash either, his outing on ‘Heat Of The Night’ being just one of several instances where he lights the blue touchpaper.
The sheer quality of some of Tonner’s songwriting shouldn’t be overlooked either. The aforementioned ‘Freedom Like A Woman’ is full of light and shade, providing the foundations for Dixon to lay down some smouldering sax, and Melville to demonstrate both control and passion. ‘Bullet For The Blind’ is similarly dynamic, with an earworm of a hook, while on ‘Evening’ they fan the flames of a smoky, jazzy, late-night vibe.
Overall the sound is a potent mix, with the rhythm section of Tonner’s drums and Cameron Sweetnam’s bass always in the sweet spot, and further solidified by Ant Scapens guitar, with added colour from both Dixon’s sax and Randall’s piano.
I’m left with inescapable impression that The Stumble not only know what they’re doing, they aim to have a damn good time doing it. So get on your dancing shoes, turn the volume up, and shake yer booty!
The Stumble, Lie To Me
Album Review by Carol Borrington
Lie To Me
Star Jam Music UK Ltd
The CD of month caused somewhat of a dilemma, the obvious choice was Joe Bonamassa’ “Driving The Daylight”. Yet, Joe has already had numerous accolades for this excellent CD and there was another brought out in June, that in its very individual way merited equal praise, The Stumble’s “ Lie To Me”. So BRATS decided to make The Stumble its CD for June to allow them to get their just deserts.
The Stumble have been out-on-the road for ten years now and this is their third album. The first thing to say is there isn’t a bad track on it. This is to the credit of The Stumble but added to that is the recording, mix, mastering and producing of the CD by Luke Paget which adds its own piece to the success of this CD. It’s mixed not only in style and tempo but also in individual track running times. Their use of short and long tracks has the effect of keeping the mind keenly focused on CD and bring a different dimension to the normal Blues CD were tracks often run constantly round the five to eight minutes in length throughout. All tracks with the exception of ‘Numb The Pain’, a Paul Melville composition were written by Boyd Tanner and the harmonica on, ‘I Get A Little Hot’ was provided by Paul Routledge.
The CD in fact opens with the title track which is a shorter track of some 2minutes 28seconds. In that short time, the CD manages to says, we are here, this CD is different from the rest of the pack, now get on and give us a listen, you won’t be disappointed. ‘Lie To Me’ is a catchy, foot-tapping RnB style number, that features Paul Melville’s powerful and emotive vocal, allied to a Colin Black’s fervent guitar riffs and Simon Anthony smouldering Sax. From this high octane tune , the second track, ‘Big Better Love’ with Colin’s guitar opening, and Cameron Sweetnam’s bass adding a deep heart thumping riff beneath. Paul’s vocal on this track has a more polished style than his usual Blues grit but this only adds to the vocal interpretation of lyrics and mood of the song. The guitar solo in the middle is one of those mind, body and soul events when a guitarist imbues it with his very essence.
This is followed immediately by ‘I Get A little Hot’, a classic and meritorious Chicago electric Blues number with teeth. ‘Monet Time’ slots in next, an up-tempo RNB, a song with a built in longevity. If you heard this in 60s it would have been a regular request to be played. Put on a twenty-first century stage and it loses none of its power and regains the ear of a new generation of punters.
As said at the beginning, every song on this CD is good but if one stands above the others it is the beautiful ballad, ‘My Life’. It’s a top quality, lump in your throat song. The lyrics, the vocal and the instrumentals course through the very essence of this song, like blood through the veins of musicians throughout history, imbuing a fine emotional intensity to the whole; making this a song not to be missed. Taken also from a pure commercial sense, had this song been released in the days before Simon Cowell turned the UK and US music into sausage meat to be turned out by a machine, it has all the potential to have made a chart No.1.
To underline that life is worth living, The Stumble catapult you straight into ‘Little Margarita’ an uptempo number, that has your foot tapping and a nagging urge to get up and dance! The Stumble’s signature sound comes in to play on ‘360 Degrees Blues’, another catchy, number that will soon be a favourite with punters at live performances, because it the sort of song that allows Paul to vent his great stage persona, as the vocal goes into overdrive.
‘No Patience’, again another shorter track, is a bouncy Blues number with a slide solo that proves that you don’t need five minutes or more, to prove what a truly good guitarist you are on a CD, leave that for the stage, where there is all night! A CD is taster of your work not its entirety. The CD closes on a very different note with ‘Numb The Pain’. Gone are all the big instrumental sounds of the rest of the CD, in favour of an acoustic track of quality and excellence. If you want to know more about this CD then do go and buy it and along with a superb purchase which you will want play over and again, you will see why The Stumble sits fairly and squarely among the UK’s top Blues bands with their talent, passion and variety.
Carol Borrington (Former CD of the Month 2012)
You guys rock. Your debut album was a blast, raw and very powerful with Paul’s amazing vocals. Seeing you live in Monaghan was also a beautiful experience. The new disc brings back those memories with great setlist of some of the best songs in The Stumble’s catalog. The deep soul of “My Life”, the dragging blues of “Jumping Off The Loving Train”, the opening cut, love them all. The guitar-sax interplay is so cool, as always, and Paul once again proves he is one of the best European blues singers on the scene today. A very impressive disc.
Again, thank you Colin for updating me with the new record. If I hear of any gig possibilities in my area re: foreign bands, I will let you know. Would be cool to bring you to Poland.
Keep in touch and best wishes,
The latest album Lie To Me. 2012
A review of the album from Blues Matters Magazine: "With a rising reputation on the live Blues circuit, it is no surprise that 'Lie To Me' delivers on the promise that The Stumble have been building for a while. A six piece band that play and write their own material, they play swing jazz blues, with a swagger, and play well written slower material as well. Led by the singer Paul Melville, and featuring saxophonist Simon Anthony, guitarists Colin Black and Rob Livesey, and powered along by the rhythm section of drummer and songwriter Boyd Tonner and bassist Cameron Sweetnam, this is a feelgood selection of songs, featuring the distinctive vocals of Melville, and the tellingly shared solos between the three soloists. The music ranges from the well thought out, swinging 'Little Margarita' with its unison sax and guitar lines, or the slow burn, six minute epic of 'Jumping off the Loving Train' and, the rockabilly swing of '360 Degree Blues'. to the acoustic ballad and album closer 'Numb The Pain'. Harmonica player Paul Routledge brings the spirit of Chicago to 'I get a little hot', whilst 'My Life' starts life as a slow jazz blues blues piece, before a coda brings the energy levels back up high. This is a very good album, full of fine songs, and performances from an ensemble who's reputation can only grow following this release." - Ben Macnair.
CD REVIEW FOR BLUES IN BRITAIN DEC 2008
Star Jam Music STU 475986-4
Houngan is the eagerly awaited follow-up to The Stumble's previous, highly acclaimed album, The World Is Tough. It comprises 13 tracks, 11 of which are written by the band, with drummer Boyd Tonner contributing solely or jointly to ten of them.
The album opens with the bouncing Elmore-James-style shuffle, 'Its A Lie', followed by the fast-moving 'Bus Stop' and the Latin-rhythmed 'Heart Stopped Working'. The slower-paced 'Flesh And Bone' is embellished by a lovely guitar solo from Colin Black, while the superb title track boasts an insistent boogie beat and features a cracking sax solo from Simon Anthony. The upbeat rocker 'Maudie' and the universally loved 'Nobody's Business' showcase Paul Melville's magnificent vocal prowess, while 'Your Love For Me' demonstrates Jonny Spencer's mastery of slide guitar and the high calibre of Boyd on drums and Dave Heath on bass guitar.
'Georgia Sun' sets a rattling pace before the excellent medium-paced shuffle 'Kind O' Girl' settles the tempo down and sees Simon on baritone sax while Colin delivers a marvellous harp solo. 'Headshot' raises the pace again with Jonny on lead guitar and 'Sugar Don't Taste So Sweet' combines a predominantly Latin-rhythm with a driving middle eight before Howlin' Wolf' 'Meet Me At The Bottom' brings the wonderful concoction to a vibrant climax.
The Stumble is now rightly recognised throughout the UK as a band of the highest quality and this excellent album underlines the validity of that appraisal definitely one for the collection. Rating: 9
The Stumble’s first CD "The World is Tough" came out in 2006 and received rave reviews.
A must have CD for every blues lover, spectacular!
The Stumble’s album came to me today and I'm listening to it for the third time now, I can't have enough, as this is a fabulous CD. Their lead singer has a voice of a true blues singer mixed with a soul shouter of the highest class, truly spectacular. The same word, spectacular, goes with the rest of the band. The Stumble’s rhythm section is tight as hell and the interplay between tasty guitar and wailing sax is unbelievable. Also, the 100% live approach used during recording of the CD gave some great effects. "The World Is Tough" is one of the best blues albums I've heard in a long time. Not only that, it is a disc recorded by one of the best blues bands in the business. If you are a blues lover don’t hesitate, buy this disc and catch The Stumble live – you’ll be glad you did.
Przemek Draheim, Polish Blues & Gospel Radio Host,