From The Top

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From The Top

The sleeve note to this four track EP from Warrington’s Black Circles suggests that main men Sam Bratley (vocals/guitar) and Martin Saunders (bass) augment to a three or four-piece as required, on From The Top drawing in drummer Phil Wilson and keyboardist Tim Eden.
'Gypsy Girl' opens the CD and even before the Univibe kicks in on this energetic and urgent workout, the Experience influence is obvious, with Mitchell and Redding’s unique rhythm tricks adopted well by Saunders and Wilson, allowing Bratley to create ably with guitar and voice.
Spacious and echoey, 'Bad Luck' is an atmospheric slow blues led by Eden’s Hammond, with Bratley’s vocal impressive and credible, without ever sounding as if he’s trying too hard, an all-too-common weakness. At 9'33", this is bound to be a killer track live, featuring an emotional, climactic and generally flash-free guitar solo, which may just be 12 or 24 bars too long for a recorded version. With unobtrusive contributions from the rhythm section, this is a fine example of the all-in ensemble playing at which the Circles excel.
Sister to ‘Bad Luck’ is seven minutes plus closing track 'Stop Acting This Way', a slightly stark but honest showcase for Bratley’s finely-judged guitar work. A key change holds the interest as Eden pushes into the mix to augment the sound.
'I'm Leaving' goes for a swampy sound but it tends towards being slightly messy and cluttered due to the structure and arrangement necessitating rhythm section busyness.
From The Top as a promotional tool is an interesting illustration of the band’s capabilities and with the right producer to guide them, there’s enough promise here to suggest that they have the capability of joining the ranks of energetic UK and European blues bands making a living from touring and recording.

Date added: May 06, 2015

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