What can yer about Long Tall Shorty!? Formed in ‘78 as a punk fuelled mod inspired powerhouse and kicking out a couple of the revival’s best (and most collectible) singles in By Your Love and Win Or Lose, they split fer the first time in ‘82. But in true ‘cant keep a good band down’ fashion up they cropped again mid 80’s with releases on the Diamond label. A couple of collections were released later on - ‘1970’s Boy’ on Captain Mod and the best in my opinion ‘Completely Perfect’ from Detour, which gathers all the recorded work and rarities across 2 discs. Vital fer revival collectors.
All was quiet until 2000 when the band got together again, culminating in the recording and release of ‘Bird In The Hand’ on Acid Jazz. A change of direction from their early work to a more garage influenced sound, and an album that still gets played regularly at Glover Towers and in the Glover Labour Camp. So what ter do now then? Never a band ter rest on their laurels, another change ter the line-up, and wait fer it….. another change in musical direction.
Fast forward slightly and the coolest venues in town are shakin’ ter a brand new Rhythm and Blues band, wailing blues harmonica, sharp guitar licks and even sharper threads. Who is this new band ripping it up fer the coolest people in the know? Hold on….. it’s Long Tall Shorty….. talk about the rebirth of cool! Here it is loud and in yer face, fully grown and playing up a storm. People dug ‘em, people raved about ‘em - and waited eagerly fer the recorded evidence. How would a band manage ter capture the dynamics of their blistering live set, would the tighter than a duck’s arse playing transfer ter disc? Well we’ve got that evidence now courtesy of Biff Bang Pow….
And the news is folks there was no need ter worry. This is a vital release fer many reasons. The playing on here is second to none, these are fellas at the height of their game, and turning out a release that genuinely harks back ter the very roots of mod. The dynamism and pure oomph of Dr Feelgood is there, the love of the music a la Nine Below Zero is there, and the influences of all the great British R&B bands of the past shines through. It’s as much a homage though ter generations of clubbers who’ve been ter those sweaty cellar bars and super cool hangouts listening ter the tunes being spun and being lucky enough ter see the Chicago or Delta legends play on their visits to our shores. It’s an album that shows this is a band loving what they do, playing it fer the kicks, and because of that it’s hard ter not dig it and wish ter high heaven yer were one of those 50 faces lucky enough ter hear this line-up play.
From the opening title track it’s clear what the theme fer the album is going ter be, and Women and Trouble are all a man needs. Well apart from the odd pie and a pint of Guinness. Next up the first instro, a storming take on Freddie King’s The Stumble. If this doesn’t get yer feet twitching brothers and sisters then yer need more than arthritis medicine. Next up and it’s Jeff the Fish’s first vocal offering the supreme blues stroller Fool’s Blues, awesome playing here too. Walking Down The Line is next and is groovier than a box of scratched records. Missing is up next and is another great R&B groover, shades of a club soul sound to it as well. I’ll Put A Spell On You is another stomper with a taste of slide guitar, not a million miles away from Chuck Berry. Two Can Play is the one point in the album I felt mind drifting a little, but only goes ter show the quality of the tunes album wide. Next up is the excellent Girl Like You and those of yer that have the single already will know this is a classic. Gone Fishing is the next tune and it’s a proper chugger, picking yer up and carrying yer along on a seriously infectious groove courtesy of Jeff the Fish’s wailing harmonica, and Mark’s rootin’ tootin’ sax, a superb instro. Nightime might just be my favourite tune on the album. Again this has the hint of club soul to it as much as R&B, great Hammond really brings the groove out - top stuff!! Next up is ***** and if I didn’t know better I’d think Jeff had issues. Shades of slide again, and a flavour of New Orleans blues, and a tale about a lady better off gone. Night And Day is next and is more of the same quality stuff. No Good Woman is up next and is the lead track from the previously released single, and in an album full of stand out tracks stands out just that little shade more. Finishing off the album is a real gem, Raining Again. Beautifully languorous and laid back with added backround ambience, it’s these simple sounding songs that really show the talent involved, and respect to Mr Perfect, because his name perfectly reflects the song.
All told this is an astounding album. It’s one of the most basic sounding of musical genres, but it’s not so easy to do it right. This is the sound of a great night out, buzzing with yer mates in a cool club. It’s the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, loving what they’re doing. It’s the sound of 5 decades of the music we love, honed down ter 14 songs, it’s the past, present and future all rolled into one. I’m only sad I never got ter see this line up doing it live, but good luck ter Jeff fer the future and here’s hoping Tony, Len, Clovis and Mark, and any other future LTS’ers carry on kicking out boss R&B fer many moons ter come.