Mike Whellans,
Almost 42nd Street
(Temple, 2003)

It is almost impossible to believe that these great sounds come, with only one exception, all from the one-man band who is Mike Whellans. The exception, that's the fingers of Graham Scott on piano -- but it is the amazing Whellans who masters the guitars (electric and acoustic), vocals, bass drum, hi hat, percussion and harmonica.

Whellans' years of experience in the music business give the album a reassuringly solid quality feel, without being in the least bit stolid. Almost 42nd Street is seriously stomping stuff -- five tracks written by him, and the other nine are nods (or bows) to his influences and favourites; gods and demi-gods of blues like Keb Mo, Woody Guthrie and John Lee Hooker, to name only three. This is blues with energy and style, boogieing down and defying you to keep still -- if nothing else, you will surely be moved to hit the replay button once the album ends, it is too good to just listen to once.

For purists over the pond, trust me, this Scot is proof that blues can be as deep in the blood in the south of Scotland as in the American South. As a one-man band, he is a phenomenon, but if I can say it, don't get too swamped by that flashy genius stuff, the album's content is where blues turns to gold.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 27 August 2005

Buy it from Amazon.com.