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Hollywood Blue Flames (Delta Groove Productions)
Reviewed by Ricardo, Aug 2006


A deluxe package indeed from Delta Groove. The Hollywood Blue Flames, according to the blurb, "emerged from the smouldering embers of the Hollywood Fats band," the hugely influential retro West-Coast swing blues band. "Whenever you hear the warm retro sounds of classic Chicago blues coupled with a swinging rhythm section and tasty-but-nasty guitar you're hearing the legacy of the Hollywood Fats Band" they say. Indeed.

In the Blue Flames, Fat's shoes are filled by Kirk Fletcher and a fine job he does of it too. Overall this is a great, classy band and they appear top be reveling in it. Al Blake's harmonica playing is of the highest order, as is his laid back yet affecting singing style.

While the Fats Band spawned many imitators for whom the dressing up was at least as much of it as the music, the Blue Flames put the emphasis right back where it should be - on the music. Stylish though this record undoubtedly is, the style is not at the expense of the substance and this is a Real Blues Record. Guest appearances by Kim Wilson and the great Junior Watson only add to the overall effect

On disc two - 'Larger Than Life' - we're given an insight into just how great the Hollywood Fats Band really were. Recorded in 1979/80 this excellent 'live' album demonstrates the full range of this outstanding band and, when compared to other 'blues' records being put out around that time makes you realise just how 'retro revolutionary' they were. This is a band that does full honours to the past and in their very dedication to replicating that sound they a new, modern approach to the blues that still casts a long shadow today. It's a great record in it's own right too though, not just a museum piece, and it sounds as fresh now as I'm sure it did when it was first recorded.

Individually each of these discs would be essential. Packaged together with er... 'interesting' artwork (including a fold-out poster) they're an offer you just can't refuse.