John the Revelator – Wild Blues (1970) review

August 1, 2013

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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