Hampshire (UK) based blues-rock machine SUGARMAN SAM & THE VOODOO MEN are intent on bringing the incisive and explosive authenticity of the blues sounds of the 1960s and 1970s back into our living rooms.

Their follow-up to the 2014 “Some Kind of Voodoo” E.P is Record Store Education.

This includes 9 well gigged songs that were laid down in ultra-fast time. The band gave themselves the kinda time pressure that means that this album sounds as if it is recorded largely live. Because of the time constraints involved, this is surprisingly healthy, fresh and immediate.

Record Store Education - Sugarman Sam and the Voodoo Men Image by @neilmach 2016 ©
Record Store Education – Sugarman Sam and the Voodoo Men Image by @neilmach 2016 ©

The ingenious blues-derived heavy rock number “Blues my Shining Light” launches this super album.

This has Hendrix written all over it. And drawn in the margins, too. The voice is broad-shouldered and hardy and the keys are jewel-like.

This is a stomping sweet riff-maker. And a dauntless, high-strung and eager start.

Some Kind of Voodoo” is a little more traditional. With a simple and agile rhythm at its heart.

The drums on this number are shrewd and penetrating and feed into the liquid guitar grooves like appetizing acid peel.

For those who have a hankering for Jeff Beck, try “Blues Deluxe” with smouldering licks of guitar, drawling vocals from Sam that seem to swelter with passion and the same kind of technical guitar proficiency we might expect from Bonamassa.

Stone Cold Man” is a sturdy buzzer. A true rock ‘n’ roll trailblazer.

The keys are cleverly honky-tonked by Paul McCormick…

And the waves of guitar-power fill the speakers like thriving, blurred alchemical clouds. Magic!

Sugarman Sam - liquid guitar grooves like appetizing acid peel ...
Sugarman Sam – liquid guitar grooves like appetizing acid peel … Image by @neilmach 2016 ©

After the effectively snappy “Runaway Rage” the album concludes with the cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Perhaps the least effective track here, the psychedelia seems kinda out of context on this album, which is, after all, packed to the gunwales with authentic and original blues-rock.

Besides, who can do it better than Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker? (Yes, and with Pete Brown.)

Well Sugarman Sam almost can… The band give this all they’ve got. And, to be fair, it is a splendid result. I suppose playing out on “Sunshine…” makes a really big impression … But ain’t this just showing off?

This is an incredibly impressive blues-rock album. Played with sure-handed skill.

It shows that a group of zealous talents, leveraging a large amount of effort and demonstrating some natural virtue and painstaking endurance, can still make an exceedingly fine album without the need to spend exorbitant amounts of money, or sell their soul via various PR driven urges.

Cracking stuff!

Words & Pictures : @neilmach 2016 ©

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