(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

CD review - Bushmaster, Revolution Rhapsody (2011)

Classic rock and blues with tasteful guitar work

Some bands embrace a retro sound as homage or to prove a certain kind of affiliation. Others are trying to capture a time or feeling that resonates with their psyche. Gary Brown's Bushmaster seems so steeped in 1969-1975, it's like they're time travelers. They perfectly evoke a blend of Jimi Hendrix and Paul Rodgers-era Bad Company filtered through a solid electric blues band.

Brown shows off as a dedicated student of Jimi Hendrix. His fluid lead lines, the chord melody embellishments, and tone capture Hendrix's sound, with more focus on the Jimi's blues and ballads than rocked out bombast. Take the opener, Cumberland Blues: the song uses touches of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) to liven up a straightforward blues jam. The bass and drums are tight in the pocket, but Brown's personality steps forward to drive the tune. In a nice shift, the bridge opens up the song beyond the blues with a classic rock jam interlude.

I Will Shine maintains the bluesy feel, but this is where the Bad Company influence steps forward. The tune is reminiscent of Shooting Star without being derivative. Beyond the progression, Bushmaster has sonically captured that early '70s production. Brown's vocals, which are soulful throughout Revolution Rhapsody, aren't quite as husky as Paul Rodgers, but he's in the ballpark. The arrangement's backbeat, bassline, and guitar lines all nail down the signature Bad Company sound.

Bushmaster doesn't limit themselves to those influences. They draw from the same well as Lenny Kravitz and others, melding soul and funky rock. This casserole of rock and blues is fairly tasty. The only off notes are the political tunes, Arizona Shame on You and War on the Poor, whose heavy handed lyrics are shoehorned into middling blues jams. On the other hand, We All Fall Down makes its political point within a much stronger song. This one reminded me a lot of Eric McFadden (The Rise of King George II meets Diamonds to Coal).

Despite the couple of weak tracks, Revolution Rhapsody is a strong offering. It's enough to make me wish I could join in Bushmaster's hosted open mike in Carlisle, PA.

(Check out song samples at Amazon)


  1. Personally, I think Gary should move to Virginia so I can catch him live more often. Revolution Rhapsody is a terrific new release which displays Gary Brown and Bushmaster's prodigious talent. From the opening track, “Cumberland Blues”, Gary Brown and Bushmaster blaze through a collection of original tunes that sparkle with Gary’s fiercely articulate guitar attack and solid performances from Jay Turner on bass. Gary brings a cast of seasoned, talented players on drums, keyboards, and harmonica who ably support the amazing playing springing from his Fender Statocaster from track to track. Ever-present in Mr. Brown’s beautiful guitar passages is the undeniable influence of Jimi Hendrix, though Gary’s diverse playing style on this album strays far from familiar Bushmaster material and picks through rap, rock, and funk influences that are sure to delight. From The Meters to Robin Trower, Gary Brown digs deep into his riff bag to pull out a remarkable breadth of guitar stylings, all delivered with both precision and raw energy.

    Roger Riggins

  2. Hey Roger, I miss playing in Virginia, what's going on at the tavern these days?

    Gary Brown