EUGENE HIDEAWAY BRIDGES
Hold On – a little bit longer
While the deaths of the remaining elders keep rapidly piling up, there are a few younger ones who keep the true flame burning! Eugene, at 51, is one of them. He came by the music “organically”: The Bridges Brothers quartet; father Othineil “Hideaway Slim” Bridges, blues guitarist and singer, plus juke joint operator (and later preacher); auntie Annie Mae Bullock (a/k/a Tina Turner). It doesn’t get much more “real” than that! He has taken all his precursors and made a superb synthesis of them that is all blues for today (as opposed to “blooz” or blues/rock)*. This is well thought-out material well recorded that hits the many important spots as blues.
The album is the product of most commercial recordings in the 21st Century, being done sort of piecemeal – parts were recorded in Twickenham, UK; Camperdown, NSW; Austin, TX, and it was mastered in Nottingham, UK. But this ain’t an example of musicians just phoning their parts in! While the whole cast was never in the studio together at one time, it all SOUNDS like they were and that’s high praise. The music rules, rather than the technologies: There is high energy and excitement throughout the disc as proof!
Typically with Eugene, the tunes are mainly original pieces (save for “Lost and Lookin” [J.W. Alexander & Lowell Jordan], and “Along the Navaho Trail” [DeLange, Charles, & Markes]) that are both within the tradition and simultaneously expanding its boundaries. There are 12-bar blues songs (“V8 Ford”, “Love You in Every Way”), “soul” ballad songs (“One More Time”, “I Can’t Stand It”), even rock ‘n’ roll songs (the title tune) and swing tunes (“Along the Navajo Trail”, “Yesterday Today Tomorrow”) – it’s a large gamut of musical possibilities put forth. They’re all good, folks and this is 57 minutes of fine music.
Sort of like a younger Travis Haddix, Eugene Bridges deserves to be better known… “I Can’t Stand It” deals with this problem beautifully. He can play, he can sing, he can write, he can arrange – what’s not to like? He is the international version of an itinerant bluesman who should be reaping deserved positive jingo at home! Why he isn’t is way beyond my ken. One of the albums of the year to cross my desk so far this year – good tunes, good musicians, and good performances throughout. This results in another superior album from Bridges… they just keep coming. BUY IT, if you love blues music!!!
* It was Homesick James who once said to me: “Pete, any damn fool can mash a string and holler!”.
PETER B. LOWRY Sydney, NSW
Published: LIVING BLUES #240: Dec 2015 (Vol 46, #6) pp.40-41.