Thursday, 1 August 2013

Marcus Bonfanti - Shake The Walls

Not Original

I was questioned recently about the musical ‘relevance’ today of bluesrock in the context of recent reviews about bands playing this kind of music, however one wants to characterise it as a genre. I characterise it as essentially guitar-driven, rock-paced [pretty heavy then], blues structured music that doesn’t strive to sound original as this would be anathema to the point of singing and playing the blues. But what the fuck is ‘original’ anyway? You can play the blues in a distinctive way, but more importantly, you can play the blues in a way that demonstrates expertise, either virtuoso guitar or harmonica [to chose two obvious instruments], or to sing with grit and soul and emotion. Just play it so it sounds authentic. I suppose there are obvious creative blues-tangents exemplified by, for example, Captain Beefheart and Jon Spencer, but then these two have become raunchier touchstones, and contemporary blues artists can sound like either and are therefore not ‘original’. It’s an argument that will crawl up and get lost in its own analysis if I carry on.

Marcus Bonfanti is an English blues artist whose guitar playing and gritty singing are pretty damn fine and non-original. This third album is contemporary bluesrock personified and is therefore non-original. I find myself listening to this album and nodding my head/moving my feet in a non-original appreciative and enjoyable way. Eighth track Blind Alley, to select quite randomly, has a little of the Tony Joe White in the vocal and is therefore non-original, but I like it. Favourite track, third We All Do Bad Sometimes, is a funky blues stomp that ends with a fine guitar solo which is reached as a crescendo in the song and is effective in a totally proficient but non-original way. The following track Honest Boy has a little of the Beefheart I mentioned already, and although Beefheart was quite original this echo is no longer original because it isn’t, and can’t be. But I don’t care. I just like it. It’s not an apocalypse. It’s bluesrock. The album closes on an acoustic blues number that I have heard many times before, not literally but in a non-original kinda-way [that’s a compound neologism and therefore original but really rather naff], and it isn’t bluesrock but it is the blues and I’m not going down that road.


  1. Totally agree on your definition of bluesrock. Reminds me.....back in '93 when I was busking a lot, I rolled out of the pub, steaming drunk, went for fish and chips and got chatting to this old fella who, it turned out, was a jazz pianist. He asked me what kind of music I played, so I replied "blues, mainly". Quick as a flash, he countered with "well, you're a f*cking twa*, then". I guess opinions truly are like @rseholes then.

    1. There you go, opinion shaped in its most obnoxious centre parting. Jazz too is all roots and it gets its modern highlights but the roots are always there. We like what we like and sometimes I don't understand the venom of some people's intolerance of this simple preference. Still, he was obviously pissed out of his jazz-addled brain.....

  2. Maybe one must be on heroin to understand most forms of jazz? Taking of which - how about "I never took e 'cos it makes you like sh1t music like dubstep"