Blues Bytes


June 2007

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Paul Reddick
Reddick Revue

Paul Reddick

I have to admit that I had never heard of Paul Reddick before I received this CD, Reddick Revue (NorthernBlues). I guess that I should have done as he has quite a background in the blues. Canadian-born Paul recorded four albums with a band called The Sidemen (formed in 1990 in Toronto), and they received nominations for several blues awards, including a W.C. Handy award.In 2001 they brought out a CD, Rattlebag, produced by Colin Linden – it got great reviews, including nominations for both W.C.Handy & Juno awards. Reddick is a very original song writer, a good singer, and a good harmonica player – the rest follows easily!

This CD is a combination of tracks from his career – some from The Sidemen, some from his second band, Villanelle, and some newer material. Track one on the album, “I’m A Criminal,” may sound familiar as it’s been used in an advert for Coca Cola – it’s a good slow rocking blues number, with a fantastic bass line and some laid-back harmonica. For me, Reddick couldn’t have picked a better opening track – once you’ve listened to this you can’t stop! This is just superb modern rocking blues.

The following track “2nd Street,” showcases some nice slide guitar work from Kyle Ferguson behind Reddick’s haunting harmonica, and it’s almost on a par with the first track – they are both just an excellent introduction to this man’s music. These first two tracks are, to my mind they are some of the strongest tracks on the album.

There isn’t really a bad track at all, but some are stronger than others – or maybe the ones that I class as stronger just appeal more to my taste in blues. There are 18 tracks altogether on this CD, the majority of them originals, but with a few covers – tracks by Johnny Cash, Son House, Little Walter. "Rattlebag," "Trouble Again," "Smokehouse," "Train Of Love," "Waitin’" – all very good tracks and seemingly very representative of this man’s music.

If, like me you, you hadn’t heard of Paul Reddick before now, then get this CD and listen long and hard – you won’t get tired of it!

--- Terry Clear

Canadian Paul Reddick has been turning heads since the early ’90s, when his band, The Sidemen, released four CDs (one produced by Joe Louis Walker) and toured across North America with legends like Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, and John Mayall. Their 2001 album, Rattlebag, was nominated for a Handy Award and won several Maple Blues Awards (the Canadian version of the Handy's). In 2004, he teamed up with fellow Canadian musician Colin Linden to produce the highly praised Villanelle.

Reddick has now released a retrospective on the NorthernBlues Music label. Reddick Revue collects the best of Reddick’s four Sidemen albums, Villanelle, and a side project with Paul Neufeld’s Rhythm & Truth Brass Band. The compilation captures a gifted composer and performer that might be a new face, and voice, to many blues fans.

The songs from Rattlebag include the edgy “I’m A Criminal,” which is probably best known to U.S. fans from the Coca Cola commercial seen on TV in 2006. Other highlights from that disc include “Smokehouse,” which features some impressive harp from Reddick, the lively “Trouble Again,” and the hard driving title tune. The other Sidemen tunes, from their ’90s releases are also strong (including two previously unreleased tracks…a cover of Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right” and “The Sidemen Boogie”), but the band clearly hit its stride with Rattlebag.

The selections from Villanelle, an acoustic outing, was produced by Linden and managed to capture a moody atmospheric feel similar to the productions of fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois. “Villanelle” is a particularly beautiful track with Reddick’s plaintive vocal supported by Kathleen Edwards’ violin and Linden’s acoustic guitar. “Big Not Small” features a marching drum beat and Reddick’s harp. “Round This Time of Year” is an achingly lovely ballad. There’s also a superb reworking of Johnny Cash’s “Train of Love.”

Reddick’s work with jazz pianist Neufeld’s Rhythm and Truth Brass Band is every bit as intriguing as his work with his working band. The energetic “Queen’s Hotel” and “Rosemary” (with a marvelously jazzy vocal take by Reddick) are worthy inclusions to this set.

Reddick Revue is a wonderful introduction to Paul Reddick’s gifts. He first fell in love with the blues as a teenager listening to records by Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Howlin’ Wolf before delving deeper with recordings from the pre-war era on the Yazoo label. It’s safe to say that he learned his lessons well and is on his way to becoming one of the bright new voices of the blues.

--- Graham Clarke


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