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John the Revelator - Wild Blues (1970) review

   John the Revelator - "Wild Blues" (Pseudonym Records, 2013)

John The Revelator is an obscure Dutch ensemble, at least I’d never heard anything at all about them until Pseudonym reissued their only album last month or so. Originally released back in September 1970 on Decca it has, in part, all the hallmarks of a really great record; although in fairness I should also say it would’ve been an even greater sounding disc had Phonogram engineer Gerard Beckers (and producers Tony Vos, and Hans Van Hemert) thought to give a bit more metre to the lead guitar, and slide guitar, respectively, as they both tend to lie pretty low in the mix most of the time. That said it’s not too off-putting, and there’s still lots of great stuff here to get your teeth into, with various saxophones, piano (and occasional mellotron too) adding some extra colour and shade here and there. Indeed, the whole group (JTR were a seven-piece outfit) work well together and present a strong blend of instrumental texture and depth, while their basic rhythm ‘n’ blues sensibility sees them really work up their material, even managing – at times – to come over like perhaps a not so guttural version of some of those stellar outfits from an earlier time that also called the Netherlands home: Cuby+Blizzards, Bintangs and, yes, even the mighty Q65 too. You can hear that John The Revelator professes allegiance to many of the great vintage blues cats, and chief among their influences are the sounds of Elmore James, BB King, and Son House, the man behind the song whose title also begat the group’s moniker and which, in a truncated, introductory version, is also the title that begins John The Revelator’s Wild Blues.
I love the effect that the distant, echoey guitar gives to some of the tracks; strategically placed so as not to render everything totally in your face the way some loud ‘n heavy guitar scenesters make it, and this brings a rather nice balance with subtle touches that really benefits the group. Contrastingly, the last two tracks on the second side, ‘Homework’ (the first song the band laid down) and ‘Yeah’ (an outtake from the LP), reverse the trend and feature the group with a more prominent guitar sound which lends the songs a decidedly more 60s beat-blues feel. This in turn seems to also make lead vocalist (and bassist) Tom Huissen work that little bit harder, and the end results make for a particularly palatable listen.
So there you have it, and if you like the Dutch blues trip of the late 60s and early 70s,then I urge you to seek out this newly re-released John The Revelator platter, you’ll be sure glad you did.

Review made by Lenny Helsing/2013
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