The English studio owner and record producer MIKE VERNON has made a unique contribution to music since 1965 when he first worked with Eddie Boyd on Five Long Years then produced notable works with the Bluesbreakers, Chicken Shack, Climax Blues Band, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green, John Mayall, Christine McVie et al.
But although Vernon is best known as the founder of the blues label: Blue Horizon and his work at Decca Studios, less is known about his musical mastery and interpretative performance skills: It’s entirely possible you might remember that Mike was a drummer for 1970s funk-rock band “The Olympic Runners” but more likely you’ll recall he was the baritone singer for “Rocky Sharpe and the Replays” whose cover of “Rama Lama Ding Dong” reached #17 in the UK Singles Chart 1978.
“To be fronting my own R&B outfit has always been a dream but the right moment to make that transition never appeared until now,” he says.
So he brings his dreams alive with his “own band” the Mighty Combo that includes the talented : Kid Carlos (guitar) Ian Jennings (upright bass) Mike Hellier (drums) Matt Little (keyboards) and Paul Tasker (Saxophone). And the new album: ‘BEYOND THE BLUES HORIZON’ includes nine self-penned originals and three accomplished covers of songs by Brook Benton, Mose Allison and Clarence Henry.
‘BEYOND THE BLUES HORIZON’ IS OUT ON FRIDAY 7 SEPTEMBER but we had an early listen:
When proto rock ‘n’ rollng band-leader Jimmy Preston & His Prestonians sang about “Rockin’ the Joint” in 1949 no one really knew that this elegant blues-jump, presented with swing gospel and boogie-woogie brass, was the beginning of a revolution. But by the time Bill Haley & His Comets re-released the title in 1957 rock wasn’t just a genre… it was a craze.
So “We’re Gonna Rock the Joint” is a great place to start Mike’s rock ‘n’ rolling party. It’s soft, it’s fluid and it has a rat-a-tat rhythms that will make your toes itch… Yeah, sure, this number will get you grabbing your girl and taking her to the the ballroom floor for a twist.
“Kiddio” has acidic guitar and a drawling R&B riff. The voice is smooth and tonal, with lots of colour. And the smeariest organ you’ve ever heard gives this number a sullied sheen that’s cut through by ultra-sharp guitar. Fab!
Rocky Sharpe fans will love the chattering keys, bumpy rhythms and the locomoting riffs on “Be On That Train.” With slappy bass, cavorting drum, sexy sax, call-and-response and glistening guitar… boy-oh-boy this is doo-wop heaven!
And slinky “Red Letter Day” oozes charm & sophistication Cab Calloway-style. With a jiving beat, characterful brass and buoyant vocals this is one smooth hustler…
This is a cheerful rock ‘n’ roll album with a happy spirit, great attention to detail and it’s more nostalgic than a trip in a two-tone rear fin Vauxhall Cresta…
All together now: Let the good times roll !
File under: Bill Haley & His Comets, The Blues Brothers, Shakin’ Stevens
MIKE VERNON & THE MIGHTY COMBO UK & EUROPEAN 2018 TOUR
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, UK Sunday 22 July
Old Bakery Studio, Truro, UK Friday 17 August
Blues at Broom Hill Festival, UK Saturday 18 August
The Hope Tavern, Market Rasen, UK Sunday 19 August
Wrotham Arms, Broadstairs, UK Tuesday 21 August
Haven Club at The Bullingdon, Oxford, UK Thursday 23 August
Bluefunk, Poynton, UK Friday 24 August
Darvel Music Festival, UK Saturday 25 August
Great British RnB Festival, Colne, UK Sunday 26 August
Venue 77, Ipswich, UK Friday 7 September
Market Lavington Music & Comedy Club, Devizes, UK Saturday 8 September
Borderline, London, UK Double Headline with Sari Schorr Friday 14 September
Forest Arts Centre, New Milton, UK Saturday 15 September
Keighley Blues Live, Keighley, UK Friday 28 September
Carlisle Blues Rock Festival, UK Saturday 29 September
Discovery Centre, Winchester, UK Wednesday 3 October
Festival Blues des deux rivières, France Saturday 5 October
Blues de Cerdanyola Festival, Barcelona, Spain Saturday 6 October