Review: Supersonic Blues Machine ' West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco'

Harking back to the late 60’s and early 70’s where famous musicians would often share the stage with each other in monster jams, Supersonic Blues Machine are aiming to “bring back the spirit of camaraderie between musicians”

The three piece consist of guitarist-singer-songwriter Lance Lopez, prolific bassist and producer Fabrizio Grossi as well as one of the busiest and most respected drummers in the business , Kenny Aronoff. The seeds were sown back in 2012 when Lopez visited L.A. to record a new album and Grossi suggested that they meet up and work on some material. After three songs were put together it was obvious to both that the collaboration would bear fruit. Mutual friend and ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons helped speed up the process and once Aronoff came on board, Supersonic Blues Machine (SBM) was born.

With a jaw dropping who’s who list of guitar greats like the aforementioned Gibbons as well as Walter Trout ,Warren Haynes,Robben Ford,Eric Gales and Chris Duarte all featuring on the album,Grossi is quick to point out, “It’s not a guest record,these guys are part of our family and just happened to show up on that song”. Blending Blues Rock with hints of Motown and Soul, SBM have produced an earthy, organic album that not only ticks all the boxes but an album where it’s obvious how much fun all the performers had performing on.

‘Miracle Man’ has a great mix of blues harp, gospel-like vocals and smoking hot guitar solos that will induce involuntary foot tapping and hand clapping. ‘I Aint Falling’ is more modern sounding with a no frills backbeat from Aronoff which allows the others to do their thang and ‘Bone Bucket Blues’ is a raucous bar room brawl of a song.

First collaboration is ‘Running Whiskey’ which features the unmistakable talent that is Billy F Gibbons (Billy Fuckin’ Gibbons ?) too relevant to be from the ZZ Top Eliminator days,this is Gibbons having a blast and just letting rip,so much so that the extended ending of the track is featured later on in the album as a stand alone track. Listen to it without breaking out the air guitar ….nope.

Ex -Allman Brothers band and current Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes appears on ‘Remedy’, a gorgeous laid back trek through Americana/Southern Rock which just takes off around the three minute mark and this is a frustrated guitarist’s wet dream. Robben Ford appears on ‘Let’s Call It A Day’,a soulful and gentle performance that is one of the albums more low key moments and a real highlight. ‘That’s My Way’ features Chris Duarte and there is real swagger about the song which features some glorious Motown inspired vocals during the chorus.’Nightmare & Dreams’ features Eric Gales with a Hendrix inspired intro and his playing is impeccable throughout, especially when he lets fly on his end solo.

Grossi really wanted Blues legend Walter Trout on the record and waited until Trout was playing again after his hospitalization before putting out the feelers.Contacting Trout’s wife he enquired whether or not Walter would be ready to play, only for Trout himself to call back saying, “Are you fucking shitting me, I’ll bring the guitar !” ‘Can’t Take It No More’ is an incredible, heartfelt six minutes that leaves an everlasting impression on the listener and deserves all the attention that it is surely going to bring.

On an album of many rich highlights it’s left to a cover version steeped in British Rock folklore to steal the show. A teenage Grossi caught Whitesnake at one of the early 80’s Monsters Of Rock shows at Donington (strangely enough it was also my first visit to the hallowed ground of Donington) and was blown away when Coverdale et al played their traditional crowd pleasing cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s classic ‘Ain’t No Love (In The Heart Of The City)’. Taken by the whole experience, Grossi promised to himself that one day he would play his own version of the song. Fast forward to the present day and he is relaying the tale to Lance Lopez who by sheer coincidence got his first pro gig playing with Bland and their stunning and sincere cover was recorded as a tribute to him.

This is an album simply dripping with guitar par excellence and it seems that there are plans to bring Supersonic Blues Machine overseas, perfect for Ramblin’ Man Fair in Maidstone this July especially since Walter Trout is also playing over the weekend.

‘West of Flushing,South of Frisco’ is released 26th February through the Mascot Label Group.

Review By Dave Stott

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