I was a lucky young man growing up. My local The Torrington in North Finchley , London put two gigs on a week that featured the great and the good of the rock and blues world past and present (late 80’s present) This meant that John Mayall, Steve Marriot, Wilko Johnson, Ruthless Blues and Bad Influence all played near my house. The fact that my mates dad organised the show and the bar staff served me from the age of 15 made things even better. That my dad was the drummer in a blues rock band in the 60’s called Shades of Hades put the cherry on the cake and meant my folks supported my weekly underage sojourns into the smoke and hop wafts.
What this means is that the Blues is as ingrained in my DNA as metal, punk and goth and I could often be seen hair back combed up wearing lipstick headbanging to a cover of Tush by ZZ Top in the aforementioned holster or grooving to Boom Boom.
Which brings me to Swamp King by Little Albert – an album that mixes blues and stoner with a puff of psychedelia. It is the brainchild of Italian vocalist and guitarist, Alberto Piccolo of the doom band Messa he decided to celebrate his first musical love with Little Albert. He brought in Christian Guidolin on bass and Mattia Zambon on the drums and Swamp King was born.
The album is full of classic blues with nods to both Chicago and the Delta. The opening title track sounds like it could be by Albert Collins. Slow and full of whiskey soaked melancholy. Piccolo’s solos are heart-wrenching and segue effortlessly into the earthy blues scales and soft basslines and deft percussion. His vocals are more occult rock than blues bringing to mind Uncle Acid and Green Lung. It works though.
“Bridge of Sighs” opens with a swirling Hendrix vibe – the lava lamps are set to stun here. Great late sixties vibe – far out groove with baby wahs in full effect and big multi scale solos over a hefty drum sound. Cream fans will dig this like a JCB baby.
It’s a blues album so there has to be some kind of moan how the fairer sex treats our protagonist. “Mean Old Woman” is a classic Blues trope with a dash of heavy added in. Can really imagine Ozzy and co playing this in a backstreet pub in Aston back in ’69. One to lose yourself in the bottom of a glass to.
“Blues Asteroid” is an instrumental with the ghost of Gary Moore tinkling the fret board. Warm and relaxing like a good brandy. The occult rock vibe is back with “Mary Claire” with psychedelics stomping through clad in bell bottoms and winkle pickers. If you like this, I suggest you check out the Brown Acid series of reissues to hear the roots. Little Albert got some groooooooooooooooove man!
Ol’ Little Albert has not forgiven the women in his life that easily after Mary Claire as we are treated to “Outside Woman Blues” another wholesome slab of stoner Blues. This boy’s guitar really sings – it outstrips his languid vocals which play a supporting role here – a damn fine supporting role it has to be said.
Swamp King is a mighty fine Blues album and a groovy Psyche album and the stoner bits are far out too!
(8/10 Matt Mason)