by Ian Mann
January 03, 2015
An impressive calling card from The Troy Redfern Band. They deliver their high octane brand of blues rock with skill and verve and one senses that 2015 is going to be a big year for them.
The Troy Redfern Band
“The Troy Redfern Band”
I first heard the blues guitarist and vocalist Troy Redfern as part of the trio Electric Blues Reaction, a popular attraction on the live music scene around the Welsh Marches circa 2010. A review of that band’s impressive blues/rock album “Tchula Junction” appears elsewhere on this site.
EBR featured Redfern alongside drummer / lead vocalist Nick Smith and bass guitarist Stuart McDonald, the latter a veteran of the late 1960s blues boom and once a member of the fondly remembered (and recently revived) band Killing Floor. McDonald was also part of Peace, the group fronted by vocalist Paul Rogers in the days before the singer went on to find greater fame with Free, Bad Company and even Queen. Back in the day McDonald also backed visiting blues legends such as Freddie King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Otis Spann. Originally from Presteigne in the Welsh Borders McDonald spent a number of years on the London rock and blues scenes before returning home.
Following the demise of Electric Blues Reaction Redfern, based in Kington, Herefordshire, remodelled the group as The Troy Redfern Band, retaining the services of McDonald and bringing in drummer Phil Greenhouse from Tenbury Wells, just over the border in neighbouring Worcestershire. Greenhouse has long been a stalwart of the local music scene featuring in popular bands such as the Sultana Brothers and Skynt. I’ve always thought of him as one of the most “musical” drummers on the local circuit, never content to just slam out the rhythms like many of his contemporaries but also embellishing his playing with unexpected fills and flourishes in the manner of the best hard rock drummers -think John Bonham, Keith Moon, Bill Ward, Ian Paice. Technically he’s a better drummer than Smith and also adds distinctive high pitched backing vocals but the job of lead singer has now passed to Redfern and it’s his voice that we hear throughout this highly convincing self released recording from 2014.
Much as I used to like Electric Blues Reaction I feel that Redfern has now taken this new band to another level. Always a skilful and powerful guitarist Redfern is now playing better than ever and is also growing in terms of both confidence and ability as a singer. An increasingly assured front man he gets great support from the commendably tight rhythm section of McDonald and Greenhouse. This is a trio that seems to be on something of a roll having enjoyed a number of high profile support slots including the Son of Man band at dates in Swansea and Cardiff. They are due to support the Steve Gibbons Band at the Robin 2 Club in Bilston in March 2015 and a busy date sheet also includes a number of gigs in the London area as news of the trio spreads. A feature on the band in the October 2014 edition of Blues Matters magazine also helped to bring them to wider attention and this was complemented by a favourable review for this album on the Blues in the North West website.
I recently saw the band support former Mott The Hoople and Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs and his Blues Band at The Jailhouse in Hereford. This was probably the best show I’ve seen the Redfern band play as Redfern continues to move away from his initial Jimi Hendrix influence to increasingly establish his own voice. Freddie King, Elmore James and Buddy Guy have also been cited as inspirations as have Rory Gallagher and Johnny Winter but Redfern is increasingly becoming his own man with the presence of the veteran McDonald also adding an air of authority and authenticity to the group’s music.
This eponymous début album recorded at his own Dark Horse Studio features eleven Redfern originals and is in the same blues/rock vein as Electric Blues Reaction albeit with a more authentic blues feel. Opener “It Stacks” features high octane slide guitar and a propulsive blues boogie beat.
“The OtherSide” is reprised from “Tchula Junction” but seems more convincing here with a strong vocal performance from Redfern allied to some searing guitar work and powerful but precise drumming from Greenhouse.
Apocalyptic and biblical lyrical imagery was a feature of EBR’s work and there’s plenty of that on the dramatic “Salvation”, a hugely convincing live number that features another assured vocal and more stinging slide. It’s delivered at a less frenetic pace than the first two numbers but this only adds to its effectiveness.
“Wildfire"features a hoarse vocal and a driving, shuffling blues boogie beat. McDonald’s pounding bass and Redfern’s scorching slide add to a typically incendiary group performance.
The declaration of independence and revenge that is “What Goes Around” maintains the energy levels with an impassioned vocal, scabrous blues rock guitar and typically pummelling rhythms.
“WarCry” is more atmospheric, a brooding, smouldering slow blues that gradually ramps up the tension as it progresses before finding release in Redfern’s closing solo which soars and wails in dramatic fashion. It’s well paced and immaculately constructed.
Next up “BackDoor Hoodoo” is a deliciously dirty piece of slide driven mayhem that has been likened to George Thorogood. The lyric, delivered in a convincing down home blues growl, filters Muddy Waters via John Fogerty and there’s also an uncredited harmonica solo mid tune which I assume is played by Redfern himself.
“Lamb Of Zion” represents a welcome change of style and piece, a genuine acoustic blues with authentic sounding bottleneck style guitar, a convincing vocal performance and more of that biblical lyrical imagery.
It’s back to business as usual with the surging blues boogie of “Back Home”, a typical “baby done me wrong” song that fuses a desolate lyric to an infectiously upbeat groove in the best blues tradition.
“Running With Ghosts” edges closer to the worlds of rock and metal with its apocalyptic lyrics, soaring choruses and pounding rhythms.
The album closes with “Survive” a slow burning blues rock number with a similar dynamic to the earlier “WarCry”. Redfern gives an assured vocal performance and adds a smouldering guitar solo as Greenhouse and McDonald lay down an implacable, metronome like groove. There’s an epic, dramatic quality to this track that bodes well for the future development of the trio.
This album represents an impressive calling card from the Troy Redfern Band, although a little more dynamic and stylistic variation wouldn’t have gone amiss. However one senses that things are looking up for this hard working trio and that 2015 is going to be a big year for them. The evidence, both live and on disc, suggests that they’re more than ready to make the step up to the national stage. They deliver their high octane brand of blues rock with skill and verve and are fast becoming a highly consistent and convincing live outfit. Festival organisers take note, this is a band who have earned the right to be seen and heard at the country’s leading blues events. The Troy Redfern Band delivers.
From Troy Redfern via Facebook;
Just read your review, massive thanks for such a fantastic, intelligent and in depth review! I really appreciate your work, thank you. Best review we’ve had! I keep forgetting how much of my childhood evangelical upbringing seeps into my lyrics
Hope to see you soon
Thanks and best wishes
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