Dave Hole,
The Live One
(Alligator, 2003)

Slide guitar tends to be a novelty in the blues world. It seems the most common use is when a flashy guitarist slips a slide onto his finger to play a song that recycles the standard riff of "Dust My Broom."

Dave Hole plays slide guitar exclusively, however, and his career of more than 30 years has proven that it can be used in most blues styles. The Live One also shows that it can be an exciting way to play in front of an audience.

There is careful attention to the sound on this CD, which might be expected. Bruce Iglauer, who co-produced the album with Hole, started Alligator Records with recordings of famed slideman Hound Dog Taylor. It actually sounds a bit too good for a live show, with perfectly balanced sound and an audience that is only audible a few times.

Luckily, the mix is "hot," without the over-equalization that dampens many modern blues productions. Hole's vocals and guitar are upfront. Roy Daniel on bass, Bob Patient on keyboards and J. Mattes and Ric Eastman alternating on drums provide a solid, elementary backup to Hole's pyrotechnics.

Hole never runs out of ideas from the boogie opening of "Jenny Lee" to the closing 12-minute showcase "Bullfrog Blues." The only questionable moments are "Purple Haze" (Hole does not have to prove himself with yet another Hendrix cover) and "Take Me to Chicago," which reprises the "Dust My Broom" riff once again.

Hole, who comes from Australia, does not tour as relentlessly in the U.S. as many blues artists. That is a shame, because this CD, his first live one, indicates that he is a unique talent.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 22 November 2003

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