Chris Youlden and the Slammers ‘Closing Time’ LP/CD (The Last Music Company) 4/5

Regarded by some as the British equivalent of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Chris Youlden was one of the finest vocalists to emerge from the 1960s British blues scene and found success in the motherland of the blues, touring and performing at prestigious venues from Fillmore East (New York) to Fillmore West (San Francisco) and including also the Grand Ballroom in Detroit. He is, perhaps, best known as a key component in the Savoy Brown Band which included the later Rolling Stone, Bill Wyman. Due to musical differences, Youlden left that band and subsequently recorded two albums on the London label, ‘Nowhere road’ and, ‘City child’. During a prolonged absence from the music scene, Chris Youlden wisely used his time to study for a degree in sociology, before eventually returning to the London scene and to R&B (in the traditional meaning of the term) bands. The music recorded here dates between 1987 and 1991, and reflects the kind of modern blues and R & B influences that Youlden and his contemporaries were soaking up during the 1960s and beyond. These ‘lost tapes’ were lovingly preserved are in excellent condition. Among the covers which Youlden imbues with his own personality, a slower than per usual take on Mose Allison’s ‘Fool’s Paradise’, offers up a new perspective on that song, with melodic guitar and harmonica in place of piano, while Ray Charles’ ‘Roll With My Baby’, is more faithful to the original, as is Percy Mayfield’s ‘How Deep Is The Well?’. Since leaving Savoy Brown, Chris Youlden has rarely performed and therefore these eighteen previously unreleased analogue recordings are a very welcome addition to his career and are supplemented by a lengthy and informative inner sleeve booklet. His own group, ‘The spirit of ’71’, reformed in 2011 and performed at the 40th anniversary Glastonbury festival. For fans of 1960s blues, you will not want to be without this recording.

Tim Stenhouse