Power of Discovery
To remind me again of how little I know about important musical history, this album has brought Duffy Power to my amazed attention. My acceptable excuse in this case is that Power’s critical status in the blues and skiffle scene was established in the early 60s as I was only just beginning the serious aural journey, and he was then suddenly a reclusive figure not playing live or recording for over 30 years.
Released last summer, Tigers is a collection of recordings coaxed from Powers by Irish music journalist and composer Colin Harper between the years 2000 and 2006, including the one exception from 1996 which is the song Spaces, the last recording made by saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith, famously of Colosseum.
The other aspect to amaze me is how much the singing and guitar playing reminds of John Martyn, the vocal especially in its slight gruff slur, an echo of John’s much more pronounced development, but also the recording on this album of The Slickers’ Johnny Too Bad [with an additional vocal tone of Warren Zevon]. The song Now and Then also has a beautiful echo of Martyn’s vocal as well as early folk guitar picking [itself such a reflection of Jansch et al]. What is distinctive is Power’s superb blues harmonica playing.
The opening three tracks are such an excellent start: Sweet Again; Tigers; Johnny Too Bad