16 March 2015 (released)
28 February 2015
In 2012 this album was released in a vinyl only limited edition of 1000 copies. It made sense at the time because the gig was recorded on the Ronnie Lane mobile using all analogue and all valve technology – the only digits involved belonged to Mr Petit’s fingers as they ripped up and down the fret of his ax. Since then, the album has become almost legendary after being described by Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones) as “the best live album since ‘Get Yer Ya Yas Out’” and is finally being released in a digital format – no bonus tracks, no ‘extras’ and no remix, just the way that SDP and the legendary Dennis Weinreich intended it.
Is it any good? Firstly you have to consider the music.
The band that Petit put together for the show at High Voltage consisted of Petit on guitar and vocals, Laurenzo Moufflier on harmonica, the Pretty Things drummer Jack Greenwood on drums and Dick Taylor from the Pretty Things swapping his lead guitar for a bass – the first time he had played bass since being the original bassist for the Rolling Stones – and they had only a very few rehearsal opportunities.
The performance, over seven tracks, is nothing less than incendiary.
The music is Blues and Rock & Roll and the band cook like they were playing the music for the first time. They play hot, raw and every moment seems to kick the next into a higher gear. Stephen Dale Petit is more animated than I’ve ever heard him before and the rhythm section turns the heat up and up so that hoary old numbers like ‘Summertime Blues’ sound as fresh as if they were written yesterday.
Dick Taylor’s bass lines are amazing: fluid and funky and when put alongside Greenwood (who was 19 when this was recorded) who has the pizzazz and slap of early Keith Moon the synchronization is pretty well perfect.
Moufflier is a superb harp player with great tone and great sense of timing; his blowing on ‘Juke’ is wonderful, full of vibrato and power.
Petit’s guitar playing is tight and clean, never an unwanted riff and no kind of shredder but he burns the fret while his vocals have an edge of humour most singers lack (especially on ‘People Talk’ where the band had just been asked to turn their volume down as they were drowning out headliners ELP!).
The closer, Johnny Kidd’s ‘Shakin’ All Over’, puts everything together with Petit’s guitar almost psychedelic and the band beat perfect as they give him a perfect platform to explode from.
So, yes it works on a musical basis.
Is it as good as the vinyl? I’ve had the vinyl since it was released and playing that alongside the digital version I’m pretty well shocked as to just how close it gets. The bass is superb, really solid and full and the drum sound is exactly what I expected but it is in the harp that I expected to lose some of Moufflier’s ‘edge’ but none of it.
The original release was important: it showed that classic Blues and Rock & Roll didn’t have to feel sanitised or bland and it captured a hot band on a perfect night.
I have to say that this reaches out to a wider audience and that anyone who doesn’t endeavour to get a listen just isn’t into live music.
Strange as it feels this issue still gets maximum points!