Revue: The Best of Paul Reddick - Reviews

 

 

Revue: The Best of Paul Reddick

A Bag o’ Tricks
"When you collect the 'best' songs of an artist whose career spans eighteen years, you are bound to get a mix of sounds. There are songs with full bands, including horn sections, to stripped-down acoustic numbers. Paul Reddick collaborates with Canadian jack-of-all-trades Colin Linden. Linden plays guitar and mandolin on the album as well as in his role of producer. These two make a great team. Their collaborations are some of the highlights on this album and there are plenty of them here.
The Canadian singer-songwriter has heavy roots influences. He hits on many styles through the disc, from hard boogies to haunting, dreary Blues to horn-driven Rhythm 'n' Blues to some Blues rockers. It would be a fair comment to compare Reddick with fellow Canadian Colin James. James had a spell of big band music that would not apply to Reddick though.

"To listen to this album and not admire the guitar work would be a shame. Kyle Ferguson on
2nd Street plays a nasty slide. The song was recorded with Reddick's Sidemen. Vince Maccarone's drumbeat is high in the mix and drives the song. Reddick has a great vocal on the song and a large harmonica as the gravy on top of the meat. Another song with the Sidemen and Linden is Smokehouse. This song has a sizzlin' guitar riff that ignites the song allowing Reddick to blow some more harp.

"On the guitar theme, take a listen to
Villanelle. This is a collaboration with Linden. Kathleen Edwards also appears on violin on the track. Reddick has a honey smooth vocal approach to the song that conjures up a Mississippi John Hurt vibe in a modern sense.

"The take on the Son House composition
Am I Right or Wrong has a playful feel. It is a lighthearted version that doesn't go after the intensity of House, but has the grit of the Mississippi cotton fields from which the music was grown.

"Another track with the Sidemen gets an Austin, Texas, sound flowing on it,
Rattlebag. The song reminds me of Guy Forsyth's Needlegun album. The harmonica has a mean streak on it that takes no prisoners. The vocals get distorted to add to the harshness of the song.

"There are plenty of good sounds on the disc. He covers Johnny Cash's
Train of Love without even hinting at the boom-chic-a sound of Cash. This song has a freight train beat that feels good. The only thing missing on the song it that lonesome whistle in the background.

"I have to admire the three songs recorded with the Rhythm and Truth Brass Band. These songs get a New Orleans workout that just smells of Funk. Reddick's harmonica fits perfectly with these songs.

"The only song I didn't get into on the disc was Little Walter's
You Know It Ain't Right. The tempo is way too high and you lose any feel that the disc had built up. The good news is that it is the next to last song. The last song is the instrumental The Sidemen Boogie, which starts with a harp intro, so the two songs almost meld into one, but the second half is the better.

"I really enjoyed the disc and look forward to more releases from Paul Reddick. He works with some very talented musicians and has done an excellent job using everyone's strengths in just the right places.

"In the contemporary picture of music Reddick sits at the top of the roots/singer-songwriter field. The sounds are heavily influenced by all sorts of early music, but Blues from the pre-WW II era rhythms are a major force. And Reddick brings those sounds up to the current era. Not many musicians can cross that bridge, but Reddick as done so very nicely."

-Kyle M. Palarino
BluesWax
April 17, 2008 

 
   

"...Paul Reddick is someone who is doing new things with ‘old’ music. He’s taking elements of the old sounds and styles and presenting them in a new way. He’s putting his own imprint on ‘classic’ blues (and folk/blues) styles, taking the old music as a starting point for his own ideas and his own way of expressing feelings and experiences. He has a strong voice that is totally suited to the material and the style - it’s not strained or put-on to sound like a blues singer, it’s natural and it’s strong enough to deliver both the full band electric material and the more acoustic material with equal effectiveness. His lyrics are fresh and interesting - seemingly influenced by various poets, they are free of cliché and they see Reddick putting himself into other places and other times, much in the way that the best of The Band’s songs did.

"Paul Reddick is doing what people in blues should be doing in this day and age - his own thing, rooted in blues. His next release is one I’m personally looking forward to. Meanwhile, this is a good place to start with him."

-Mark Harrison
Blues in London
April, 2008 

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"Chances are you’ve heard at least one Paul Reddick song, even if you don’t know it. That’s his I’m a Criminal playing in the Coca-Cola commercial where the guy’s stealing sips at the fountain drink machine. Harmonica and guitar stretch out as Reddick sings of a life of crime, and even if it didn’t have the commercial’s amusing visuals helping out, I’m a Criminal ranks as one of the best original blues cuts to come out in a long time. Taken from from 2001’s Rattlebag, it also shows that Reddick - an artist praised for his thoughtful lyrics and fondness for field recordings and early blues forms - can fry some amps when he wants to.

"Rattlebag got Reddick a fair amount of attention in the blues world, garnering three Maple Blues Awards (including Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year) and nominations for both W.C. Handy Awards and Juno Awards. He even had songs placed on Due South and Dawson’s Creek, of all places. So no one would have blamed Reddick and the Sidemen for keeping on with what was working. 2004’s Villanelle, however found him exploring acoustic blues on his own, showing his appreciation for pre-War styles.

"Anyone familiar with the Northern Blues label, though, shouldn’t be surprised by that sort of thing. If you’ve heard a few discs from the Northern Blues roster, you know that they’re not very interested in artists limited to a same-old-same-old approach to the blues.

"Revue collects the best of Reddick’s output with the Sidemen, as well as his solo turn on Villanelle, shining a spotlight on the variety that’s marked his career. 2nd Street, with its clattery steel guitar, sounds like an energetic J.J. Cale track, while Rattlebag settles into a muscular Texas shuffle. Template Blues is anything but the cookie-cutter song its name implies, relying on the contributions of the Rhythm & Truth Brass Band (who also show up on Queens Hotel and the slinky Rosemary). His cover of Little Walter’s You Know It Ain’t Right (one of two previously unreleased cuts) is a pure pedal-to-the floor harmonica & guitars workout, while his take on Johnny Cash’s Train of Love chugs along on slide guitar, boogie woogie piano, and Reddick’s accomplished harmonica playing. Name about any blues style you can think of, and Reddick tackles it.

"Reddick apparently got bitten by the blues bug at the age of 12, becoming obsessed with the music of blues greats like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. To his credit, there’s little, if any, mimicry going on here. Reddick’s entered the Hall of Influences and come out the other side with his own style, one that can throw an effective curve now and then. Even
I’m a Criminal, which initially seems like a sterling blues workout, contains snatches of the lyrics spoken in a whisper behind the ringing guitars and wailing harmonica, giving a menacing undercurrent to lyrics that could otherwise be perceived as mere posing and bravado.

"
Revue stands as an excellent introduction to Reddick, an artist who thinks about the blues he plays every bit as much as he feels them."

-Andrew Gilstrap
PopMatters
August 31, 2007 

 
   

"For the last 15 years this waywardly brilliant Canadian singer, writer and harmonica-player has been making fascinating albums of blues and blues-derived music like Rattlebag (2001) and Villanelle (2004), usually in collaboration with guitarist/producer Colin Linden. If you've missed him, Revue is a splendid introduction, plundering his back catalogue for 18 songs of flamboyant colour, variety and ingenuity."

-Tony Russell
MOJO
September, 2007 

 
   

"Canadian harmonica master Paul Reddick is easily in my top 10 favorite living roots/blues artists. His sound is raw and raunchy and his visions are dark and disturbing. Revue features him with his band, The Sidemen, with guitar master Colin Linden and with the Rhythm and Truth Brass Band. An retrospective of an astounding body of work, the atmosphere differs very widely depending on the accompaniment that this could be 3 albums. The uniting factor is Paul’s brilliant harp and smoked whiskey malt vocals that tie it all together. Reddick’s unique brand of 'hard blues for modern times' is visceral, primal and real with the feels of the North Mississippi hill country and the kick of Hendrix if Jimi played harp. Acoustic songs are sweet and genuine, taking close notice to the Delta masters while infusing them with the rhythm and insistence of contemporary and beat poetry. It’s easy to say there’s no one of the scene quite like Paul Reddick although if you dig Otis Taylor or Watermelon Slim, this’ll really crank your stemwinder. 9 snaves"

-Dr. Blues CD Reviews
August 27, 2007 

 
   

"There is something phenomenal about Paul Reddick, he never knew who the Rolling Stones was until he was eighteen, had never listened to rock and roll while growing up--didn't even listen to radio.

"On
Revue 18 tracks are lined up each coming from Paul's recordings with various outside projects. It is made clear that Paul has a strong lyrical prowess and he has found inticing ways to fuse pre-war and post-war urban blues to bring us cutting edge expressive sound. This is a vivid representation of Pauls consistent and most daring work over the last two decades. Ultimately, as a rugged individualist, he strives to create honest music that is full of life."

-John Shelton Ivany Top 21
July 2007 

 
   

"Maybe this country is hesitant to let anyone become a star if their focus is solely the blues. Even Colin James had to come through the front door with sounds that were a fusion of a few styles. Jim Byrnes should have been a household name long ago, and for all the success they have enjoyed, Downchild play in halls of 500 rather than 2,500. After almost two decades of recording, Paul Reddick should be more than a blip on the average roots fans radar, but the bottom line is the songwriter, singer and harp player is an artist of great integrity who never lacks for soul or inspiration. A great move by Northern Blues to skim the best of Reddick's output since 1992, this 18-tune collection smokes, simmers, and always satisfies as he lyrically paints images of impact that act as changing backdrops for stories that shed light in the dark corners of everything from hard times to love affairs. Reddick is a real triple threat."

-Peter North
The Edmonton Journal
May 26, 2007 

 
   

"Paul Reddick has been playing the blues since his adolescent years. Studying primarily the early Delta masters, he is arguably Canada's finest bluesman. Add to his uncanny musical abilities his somewhat avant-garde approach to songwriting and arranging, and he is a unique talent, indeed. Northern Blues has just issued a career-spanning overview entitled Revue--Best Of Paul Reddick, which includes eighteen tracks comprised of the best of his works with the Sidemen, Colin Linden, and the Rhythm And Truth Brass Band.

"Always looking to the future while never straying far from the styles of the past, Paul reworks the Son House nugget
Am I Right Or Wrong?, giving it a ragtimey feel. Excellent slide work and Paul's harp fills also drive Johnny Cash's Train Of Love, turning it into a blues rave-up.

"By far, the most unusual cuts are with the Rhythm And Truth Brass Band,
Template Blues, Queens Hotel, and Rosemary. With the ethereal backing of the horn section coupled with Paul's gritty vocals, these have a sort of 'the-delta-meets- Miles Davis' vibe.

"We always love a good shuffle, tho, and we had two favorites. Paul's harp rides like a freight train on
You Know It Ain't Right, and he follows it up with a blistering harp instrumental showcase, the Sidemen Boogie, to close the set.

"Truly an innovative bluesman, Paul Reddick is finally receiving the accolades he deserves. For a 'different shade of blues,' give a listen today to
Revue--Best Of Paul Reddick!"

-Don Crow
The Music City Blues Society
May 8, 2007 

 
   

"The spirited music on Revue: The Best of Paul Reddick is constantly unpredictable in its range. Reddick is basically a blues singer and a fine harmonica player, but his music does not restrict itself to the blues. Various selections fall more into rock, pop, soul, and even hints of New Orleans jazz, while mostly being somewhat uncategorizable. Drawn from several previous releases, this program features Reddick with either the Sidemen (a quartet) or the Rhythm and Truth Brass Band (a medium-sized group). Most memorable are I'm a Criminal, Am I Right or Wrong, 'Round This Time of Year, and You Know It Ain't Right. Paul Reddick manages to look back to the past while creating new music, and the results are consistently intriguing and enjoyable."

-Scott Yanow
All Music Guide
May, 2007