Friday, January 09, 2015

The Count Bishops

The Count Bishops were, along with Eddie and the Hot Rods and Dr. Feelgood, standard bearers for
rhythm'n'blues in the punk world, and giving the genre a bit of punk energy, as well.

This self-titled debut, the first release ever for Chiswick, opens with a fierce, raw take on the Kinks' "I Need You" followed by their "Stay Free" that has an Eddie and the Hot Rods first-album-feel, with a smokin' groove, movin' bass line and some nice pop hooks. Willie Dixon's "Down in the Bottom" is an r'n'b masterpiece, here highlighting its somewhat off-kilter rhythms with the two guitars (Johnny Guitar and Zenon de Fleur) alternating the classic riff and some slick slide work. Bassist Steve Lewins' "Talk To You" could easily be a Slim Harpo outtake with its bluesy licks, though given a boost in the r'n'r rhythm and biting leads. They get a bit more authentic with "Shake Your Moneymaker" and classic slide guitar tones, though with a frantic beat that builds in intensity and must have brought the house down in live settings. The guitars really bring "Down the Road Apiece" to life, out Keith Richard-ing Keef in the Stones version, though Jools Holland's piano is a great addition, as well. Drummer Paul Balbi swings the meter here with Lewins giving some flowing bass lines and singer Dave Tice owning the tune.

They turn much poppier for "Baby You're Wrong" - damn near a power-pop classic and a big change of pace from the r'n'b leanings of side one. Nice, garagey solo here, though. They go back to their roots for the rhythm'n'swing of "Don't Start Crying Now" and mix the melodies and rock in "Someone's Got My Number". The Standells' "Good Guys Don't Wear White" is fairly straight-forward then they get kinda coarse'n'crude in "You're In My Way", with a kinda early Flamin' Groovie feel and some damn fine lead guitar playing. The guitars sound cool'n'old-fashioned in "Taste and Try", a stellar, swingin' groove of a tune with some more excellent guitar work that closes out the album in a danceable way.

This is a solid piece of work - gonna have to dust this one off more often!