Alan Glen: Retrospective II - Crazy Life
Special 2008 Promo CD , own distribution, Not For Sale
If Alan Glen were Belgian, I would nominate him musical heir of Toots, because Alan Glen isn’t only a fine composer, singer and guitarist, but first and foremost a harmonica ace. All these qualities are featured prominently in his work with The Yardbirds and his own projects The Barcodes and The Incredible Blues Puppies, but equally on countless recordings with friends and fellow-musicians. An anthology taken from dozens of recordings since 1986 is now available and what a wonderful record it is indeed! Let us focus on the harmonica. The opening track (from a record by his friend and drummer Dino Coccia) is a 360° exposé. A first radical switch is made to Dr. Feelgood’s thunder & rumble and a second one to the ripple & murmur of “The Waterfront” a nice duet cd with keyboardist Roger Cotton, famous for his work with Peter Green. The variety and versatility is further displayed through jazzy lounge courtesy of The Barcodes, the mysterious and sultry sound of Little Axeo, a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson, the Yardbirds’ bluesbeat and the discrimination of sound by Nine Below Zero. Yet, the coherence of his harmonica playing remains intact. Whether Alan Glen plays with the famous (Eric Clapton, not present on this record), the unknown (e.g. Tim Renwick) or the forgotten (e.g. Shakey Vick), the support and the surplus value rendered by his harmonica is obvious . Or rather : all his harmonicas - in the plural. Hats off.
Alan Glen & Papa George
Bluesnights at Dorchester Arts Centre - 8/3/08
A maximum capacity audience packed the Dorchester Arts Centre to welcome these two muchrespected stalwarts of the UK blues scene. Though each had played the venue before in other groups, this was their first appearance together in duo mode, with George playing guitar and handling vocals, whilst Alan laid down harmonica. Presenting a rich mixture of classics and selfpenned numbers, they set about wowing the crowd with a display of first-class musicianship. Papa George pulled some beautiful sounds from his Amistar tri-cone guitar, which he used for most of the gig. Fine examples of this instrument's versatility were "Blues With A Feeling", with its rolling railroad feel. and "The Sun Don't Shine" in which the combination of slow poignant guitar and Glen's subtle harp playing was superb.
Throughout the evening, the duo laced their playing with anecdotes about the music business; comparing verbal notes about who had seen which artists, playing where and when, led to Alan giving a virtuoso rendition of "Bye Bye Bird" as a tribute to the late Sonny Boy Williamson. John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake" had a strong loping rhythm, segueing into "Broken Mirrors" which provided a good example of Papa George's songwriting skills. The first set ended with an excellent syncopated rhythmic version of Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues". In the second set they played a couple of Muddy Waters numbers - "Rolling and Tumbling" and "Can't be Satisfied" - both had a primordial rock feel to them, which was nicely complemented by the duo's take on the Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman", with its almost country blues feel. Another contrast came in the shape of George's "Moon Shadows On Coconut Grove", a beautiful ballad with a Hawaiian feel, featuring empathic harp from Alan. Keith Emerson's instrumental "Barnes Station Blues" got a warm reception, whilst the final number, Cyril Davies's "Country Line Special" received rapturous applause. The duo perfectly complemented each other; Papa George's guitaring and vocals were excellent, as was the subtly understated harp playing of Alan Glen. Individually they are impressive; together they are dynamite!.
Lewis A. Harris - BLUES in BRITAIN
The Barcodes, The Incredible Blues Puppies
Eel Pie Club, Twickenham 5/3/08
The Eel Pie Club is not on the famous island but on the mainland, upstairs at the Cabbage Patch pub, a rugby ball's drop kick from Twickenham railway station. The Cabbage Patch is a large pub with a selection of ales (downstairs), eating areas, a garden, a games room and a sports TV bar, which saw a fine performance from Roman Abramovich's Blues Band warm up the evening. Regular readers will probably be aware that tonight's double bill consisted of two bands containing Alan Glen (harmonica, guitar, vocals) and Dino Coccia (drums). The Barcodes, comprising Glen, Coccia and Bob Haddrell (keyboards, bass pedals, vocals), were up first, augmented by Nick Newall on sax and flute, and Robin Jones on congas.
Officially this was the launch party for their 2007 album Live In Session For The BBC (note-records NCD 1012 2). Saxophonist Art Themen joined in for 'Comin' Home" and "Halfway To Nowhere", one of two band originals aired. Gypie Mayo came in on guitar for a few numbers and the set closed with a cameo from vocalist and label-mate Paul Cox on Glen's "Everything Or Nothing". Highlights of the gig are on youtube: "Comin' Home" with wonderful solos from both saxophonists; "The Sky Is Crying", sung by the hidden Haddrell, showcases the guitars, Mayo exuberant as ever, followed by an excellent sax solo from Themen; "That's Alright" sung by Glen with delightful work from Newall; and the guests got to shine on "Everything Or Nothing", although Cox's voice sounded veryworn.
The Incredible Blues Puppies are John O'Reilly (guitar & vocal), new boy Costa Tancredi (one of several fine Italian bass players based in London), Glen and Coccia. They opened with their signature instrumental "Puppy Fat" and essayed a few standards before Cox and Mayo returned to the stage for Glen's "Tuff Days" and "No Time For You".
The hugely enjoyable evening rounded off with vocal contributions from former bassist Jim Mercer and Shakey Vick, joined by numerous musicians. Previous note-records bashes have turned into high quality jam sessions too early but tonight the balance between the Barcodes, the Puppies and their guests was just right.
- Jon Taylor BLUES IN BRITAIN
Brecon Jazz Festival - 11/8/07
Then came the first of The Friends multi award winning saxophonist Alan Barnes and Britains number one jazz guitarist Jim Mullen both of whom feature on The Barcodes' recent album “With Friends Like These”, and Alan Barnes other half, Clare Hirst (sax). They proceeded to whip a storm of great solos on Mose Allisons’ “I don't Worry 'bout A Thing", and Junior Wells “Snatch It Back And Hold It", and were then joined by Jacqui Hicks for a selection of songs made famous by Joe Williams and Count Basie including "Everyday I Have the Blues" and “Alright, Okay, You Win".
By the time they got to the encores, "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Walkin' the Dog", the aisles and every available space was full of dancing, happy punters and musicians. Jim Mullen looked very happy - he really had lots of space to let rip. Alan Barnes was his usual superlative self, and both Clare and Jacqui obviously had a great time. The Barcodes have a knack for seamlessly fusing jazz and blues into a sound that is uniquely their own, and they provided one of the highlights of the Brecon Festival.
- Elaine Williams
The Barcodes & Friends - Brecon Jazz Festival - August 2007
The Barcodes - The Oval Tavern, Croydon - 7 January 2007
"Statesboro Blues" opened with organ and drums then Alan joined in on guitar and harmonica with Bob taking the vocal. Alan sang "Seventh Son" with fine soloing from Bob and Alan. On "King. Bee' there was fine work on organ and guitar with a lyrical harp solo from Alan to finish. On 'Big Boss Man" Alan sang and played harmonica in the first position, felling the audience that this is how Jimmy Reed would have played it. The set finished with "Outskirts Of Town', J. J. Cale's "Don't Go To Strangers" and Mose Allison's "I Don't Worry About A Thing".
The second set started with "You Upset Me Baby", then a stonking rendition of the Old Grey Whistle Test anthem "Stone Fox Chase" with all three musicians soloing. After a spirited version of "Bright Lights, Big City" there was great work from Bob on Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm" and "No More Fooling Around With You". Alan featured on "Take Out Some Insurance" while Bob did the honours on "Love The Life I Live" and "I've Got News For You", then Alan finished the set with a spirited version of "Talk To Your Daughter".
The third set passed in a blur, with "Natural Ball", a rumba version of "Eyesight to the Blind" then guest vocalist Carmen Carr sitting in on a reggae version of "Checking Up On My Baby" and the bluesy "Everyday I have the Blues". After great versions of "Mojo Workin" and "Sweet Lovin' Mama" the gig finished with the punchy "Watch Out For Me Baby" and a large crowd shouted their appreciation.
This was Blues entertainment at its best, an enjoyable, evening for all concerned. This is the kind of fare on offer at the Oval every Thursday and now a Saturday night is to be added to the roster. If you get a chance to see the Barcodes at this or any other venue, then do so, they are well worth it.
- Bill Smith - Blues in Britain
|PAPA GEORGE & ALAN GLEN - @ 'Blues With Bottle Club' - 'The Anchor' - Sevenoaks,Kent. 7th June 2006.
For years Papa George has managed to elude me; I'd heard great things,but whenever he was within reach at a gig,I was playing somewhere myself.So it was with smile-on-face that I entered the hallowed portals of the 'Blues With Bottle Club' in Sevenoaks to see him play accompanied by the splendid Alan Glen on Harp.Both these musicians have pedigrees that go way back,and are part of British blues royalty at it's best.And from the first number you could see why: George opened with several solo numbers - he alternately spanks and strokes his Resonator guitar like a loving parent encouraging and admonishing junior,and makes the guitar appear to be an axe-tension of his body.He lazes and weaves like a relaxed and contented old blues toad in a sunny pond that he's known for years and will know for years to come.The voice has a beautiful warm timbre-never straining for effect.If you love acoustic blues that slides effortlessly along the Delta,follow Papa George,'cos he knows the way.
Alan Glen - where to begin - a musician who can take the stage with the best of 'em ( and has ).He can groove along like Rice Miller,and he can blow Chicago style like The Walter's.He can also play very individually like - -well like - - Alan Glen.He played through the PA for country style( boldly scaling the north face of 'Bye Bye Bird' ),and poked us in the ribs with the Bassman for more hard-edged stuff.He also plays mean guitar and is charmingly surprised when I tell him of high praise from other guitarists.How was the gig?Well if I had another couple of pages I'd tell you just how good it was.But I haven't.So go see 'em yourself.
Gear Note - Papa George plays an Amistar steel guitar given him by that company,and the wooden resonator is a prototype Flying Finn by Matti Nebalainen.Alan Glen plays Hohner and Lee Oskar harps through a selection of Rod Piazza's customised Astatic mics,and uses a Fender 59 Bassman re-Issue amp with the original valves restored.
" SMIGGY" Blues In Britain
Papa George & Alan Glen - Peiham Arms, Lewes, 15/1/06
Papa George and Alan Glen are a combination not tobe missed. They opened their first set with 'You Can Love Yourself"; immediately we were uplifted and looking forward to what was to follow. Which was a couple of John Lee Hooker numbers, namely Crawling Kingsnake" and "This is Hip", both performed with great timing, great vocals and amazing harmonica. Alan creates a sound on his harmonica that almost adds another vocalist. He uses a turquoise astastic microphone which he bought from Rod Piazza. The sounds he gets out of his harmonica blew us away. It made the songs brilliantly different whilst maintaining the original riffs. The set continued with one of my favourite Papa George compositions, "Sun Gonna Shine", this is such a beautiful song and George's vocals make it the great song it is. I suppose a blues gig wouldn't be one without a Robert Johnson song, and they performed a superb "Walking Blues". The first set ended with George's "Blackjack", which demonstrated this duo's ability to play so tightly together and perform such brilliant outs.
George got the second set off to a melodious start with his own famous "Blues With A Feeling"; this i sung with such sincerity it is the best title he could have given it, the song lives up to its name by rising and falling in a passionate crescendo of sound. Alan added snippets of harmonica in just the right places. The Amistar steel-bodied resophonic guitar Papa George plays on this number was made in the Czech Republic. This guitar was specially commissioned by him by Resound, UK distributors for Amistar, when he played at The "Dobrofest" in Slovakia, 2001.He tells me he uses this guitar in open G and D tunings with a
The Pelham Arms will be hosting live bands on Saturday nights as from February. We all wished Alan the best for the launch of The Incredible Blues Puppies CD Puppy Fat, which I will be adding to my
- Helen Steele
Devizes Festival 2005 - 3rd to 25th June Friday 3rd June
Kicking things off during the Sunday lunchtime set was London-based band The Barcodes, which played an excellent set of smooth piano blues featuring the outstanding keyboards of Bob Haddrell and ace guitar/harmonica player Alan Glen.
Drawing heavily on a repertoire of Mose Allison, Ray Charles, Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter, the band demonstrated why it is one of the top acts on the London scene.
In addition, the duo played original songs from its current CD "Independently Blue" on Note Records. Of particular note were compositions "Be Cool" and "Grits and Greens"................
...........The stylish Papa George drew the Festival Fringe blues day into the early evening and demonstrated his skill and ability with the National Steel Guitar. The sound he produced was at times mesmerising and transformed the function room of the Lamb Inn into a Deep South bottleneck blues bar. Joining Papa George was Alan Glen, who stayed on from his early performance with The Barcodes to accompany George on harmonica. It was a mean combination and one that reflected both men's passion for the genre.
Reviewed by James Harrison
Reviews CD - Keep Your Distance
Downeast Record & CD Review
Magically we found our way from this rather soulless veterans' night to the beating pulse of blues in London purely by chance - happening on Friday at a gothic church at Teddington, in the heart of the Thames delta. On stage were the Barcodes, featuring Scottish blues-piano virtuoso Daniel Smith, and acclaimed guitarist Sonny Black. In about half an hour Smith played every style of blues-keyboard known to man - failed only by another sub-standard electric piano - from Chicago down to New Orleans, and we did the journey with him. Black, looking like a languorous Texan Sheriff, played acoustic and electric in the British folk-blues style - another musical twist - but was truly captivating.
January 11, 2005
If there's such a thing as sophisticated grit, these chaps are driving the delivery truck' -