Mike Onesko is a monster player who over the years must have played with or supported just about every blues and rock legend you can name and then some. A veteran six stringer from the old school of blues-rock, he is the driving force behind Blindside Blues Band and here he and the band tear into a 13 track set list that rarely sees them break sweat.
'Live At The Crossroads' is a chunk of loud intense blues rock that is basically a best of grab bag from a recording career that stretches back to 1993. Originally done for Germany's Rockpalast and recorded in November 2010 at the Crossroads Festival in Bonn, it is a collection of tunes that sees Blindside Blues Band sound take in the boogie of ZZ Top ('Smokehouse Shuffle') and the bluesy molasses-thick rock of the likes of Robin Trower and SRV (everything else).
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As far as blues live albums go this is a proficient dose of the stuff. The problem with it is it could be anybody. There are thousands of these outfits knocking about playing the same stuff though admittedly, Blindside Blues Band has to be considered one of the better ones. The band show they are a well drilled outfit that knows exactly what it has to do.
Now, this review only deals with the cd of the official cd/dvd combo as no copy of the dvd was available so what the bells and whistles are I don't know. However, I absolutely recommend you go to the Rockpalast website (http://www.wdr.de/tv/rockpalast/videos) where you can view this gig (and many more besides). It is a good, though unimaginative watch and the band does make it all look too easy.
So what of 'Generator', The Blindside Blues Band's latest studio album?
Well, when this went on the death decks down here in the hole ears pricked up and drinks were put on hold because the opening track, 'Gravy Train' promised the sort of boogie fest not heard since the mighty Foghat ripped up arena stages with the likes of Aerosmith and Nugent. However, that did not last long and the album soon flopped into the sort of roadhouse blues that a young Jeff Healy made his own. Throw in a bit of Trower and some flirting with the solo soaked spirit of SRV and that pretty much sums up 'Generator'.
This album panders to the lowest common denominator which, to be fair, is still pretty high when, like here, it is done well but it remains the sort of stuff that middle aged affluent white men like to swing their freshly pressed jeans to.
That's not to say 'Generator' is bad. Far from it in fact. This album is an enormous slab of crack shot blues rock that has a real nice funky stomp to it and though there are no killer tracks as such, there is still the previously mentioned 'Gravy Train' with its classic Foghat boogie and the title track that gives more than a passing nod to SRV. 'Bluesin'' has some nice slide and 'Gonna Leave This Town' is a little too polished 12 string country slide picker that the likes of Gallagher and Winter would love.
Onesko's voice has a sultry quality that reminds you of David Coverdale at his most soulful or Ricky Medlocke when he lets rip. It lends the whole piece the soulful air of a very early Whitesnake.
'Generator' is a bit samey with all but one track (the afore mentioned 'Gonna Leave This Town') being the sort of vaguely anonymous blues rock that the likes of Johnny Winter and Robin Trower used to do for a laugh. It has to be said that even before them, the black cats were knocking this kind of stuff out quicker than they could blink so they could put petrol in the tank and maybe get a decent breakfast.
As a jumping in point for those who would like to try a bit of rocked up electric blues this is perfect. It will also appeal to those who like their blues just so. However, if you like your blues to have bite and the albums to have variety and depth then this may prove a little unsatisfying. As it is, this is certainly tough enough to side step boring but it lacks the depth of variation that is needed for it to really snap at your soul.
Blues is a huge and varied genre and these two albums, whilst being very good at what they do, offer no more than a tightly focused, narrow glimpse of the blues spectrum. That's a shame because it is obvious (especially on the gig vid) that Blindside Blues Band has the skill and experience to offer something a bit more generous and challenging. As it is, both 'Live At The Crossroads' and 'Generator' are albums by a band that is obviously happy treading water.