Eye Pea (label)
12 October 2018 (released)
02 October 2018
This album brings two things together that I have loved for years.
Ian Parker is a young British guitarist, part of the same generation as Aynsley Lister, Jon Amor & Danny Bryant, who I first discovered around fifteen years ago. His style is very individual and he has an emotional element to his guitar and especially his singing that can leave an audience in both tears and raptures. He is also an excellent songwriter and the majority of his material has been self-written although he has always featured the occasional cover in his set.
Willie Dixon is probably the greatest of the Mississippi & Chicago Blues musicians. He wrote the songs that have formed the backbone of the Blues from 1939 to his death in 1992. This was a man who wrote, produced and performed for and with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy – the list goes on and on. This man was Blues royalty of the first water and his songs are the ones you heard being ripped off by Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Rolling Stones for years. They are also the songs that every sub-par Blues outfit plays to death to try and get a foothold in the scene.
Parker recorded the album virtually 'live' as a tribute to Dixon and I was more than a little intrigued to hear what he would bring to these classics. In the end he brought a whole lot of Ian Parker to the songs while leaving them intact so that they didn’t just pay homage but showed just how relevant and exciting Willie Dixon’s music is in 2018. The band includes his old keyboards player Morg Morgan and was mixed by Wayne Proctor and Steve Wright Of House Of Tone.
The album consists of 10 tracks and you might well be amazed at the variety of styles and messages he brings through the music.
His version of ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ is slow, deliberate, brimming with inner power and the slide solo there screams and howls in a way that sent shivers up my back. I have probably heard it a hundred times and this really hit a chilling mark.
‘Evil’ is big and growls with a massive riff while Parker’s vocals work with Morg Morgan’s organ and piano before leading into a brilliant guitar solo.
I love his version of ‘Spoonful’ – very deliberate and really catching the groove that brought Howlin’ Wolf to record it originally. I really wondered how he would make it different to Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Shadows of Knight, Dion, Paul Butterfield, Cream, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Ten Years After, The Who, Etta James, Delbert McClinton, Allman Joys, Gil Evans but he manages it and it’s a great way to close the album.
The version of ‘My Love Will Never Die’ is brilliant. Always a heartfelt ballad, Parker imbues it with the sound of a voice crying in the wilderness and his guitar creates little teardrops of emotion over Morgan’s Hammond. His vocal on the track suggests that he may be the great lost British soul singer.
One of my personal favourites for years has been ‘The Seventh Son’ and he carries it off with a voodoo touch, packing more into 2 and half minutes than most do in 10.
Every track gets its own treatment and he avoids any of the usual clichés in putting together a true tribute to Willie Dixon. This will not be leaving my decks anytime soon.