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Bordal on Music: British Blues from 22-20s


This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

American blues has held a fascination for British rock bands ever since Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton heard their first Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf records. Music critic Christian Bordal says a young English band called the 22-20s are mining some of that same territory on their first CD.

(Soundbite of "Devil in Me")


The blues is supposed to be all about the pain and heartache of life and love--"My Baby Left Me For My Best Friend," "I'm Down On My Luck," "I'm Drowning My Sorrows In A Whiskey Jar." But looking all the way back to the early '60s, blues in the hands of Englishmen in their early 20s sounds mostly like everyone's having a blast.

(Soundbite of "Devil in Me")

22-20s: (Singing) Well, I can't get the devil outside of me, outside of me. No, I can't get the devil outside of me, outside of me. Well, I hate the world and everything I see, everything I see, everything I see.

BORDAL: The 22-20s' lead singer and songwriter, Martin Trimble, says he grew up listening to a lot of the old-time American blues players, and the band takes its name from an old Skip James blues tune. But their musical references don't come directly from these old bluesmen; they come mostly through the British invasion bands of the mid-'60s, bands like the Stones and The Kinks and The Yardbirds.

(Soundbite of "For Your Love")

THE YARDBIRDS: (Singing) Ohhh, ohhh, ohhh. For your love.

Mr. MARTIN TRIMBLE (Lead Singer, 22-20s): You know, I never listened to Zeppelin. I'd always listened to kind of band putting out pop songs that were using blues as that kind of template, that kind of directness.

BORDAL: Lead singer Martin Trimble.

Mr. TRIMBLE: You shouldn't need to play a load of notes at a kind of massive speed or have a degree in something to understand what you're singing about. It should be about the chorus and it should be about a pretty simple riff.

(Soundbite of "Such A Fool")

22-20s: (Singing) You hurt the ones you love the most every time you lose your head. Hurt the ones you love the most every time you lose your head. Well, you shoot them down when they're too close and you've lost another friend.

BORDAL: I asked Trimble, the band's lead singer, about their obvious influences.

Mr. TRIMBLE: Inevitably, your first record, you're gonna wear those influences on your sleeve and yet we didn't want to make a record that sounded like a kind of pastiche late '60s record. We worked with the kind of producer that had worked with Primal Scream and been putting out contemporary records, and that's what we wanted to do.

BORDAL: It's hard for a young band to find a unique, original sound and that's not what these guys have achieved. But, you know, so what? The 22-20s have nothing to be ashamed of with this album. It's consistent, well-written, well-played and, more importantly, it has a loud sweaty jam-packed blues club kind of energy. So just enjoy it.

(Soundbite of "Shoot Your Gun")

22-20s: (Singing) Oh, baby, won't you cry?

BRAND: That review by music critic Christian Bordal.

(Soundbite of "Shoot Your Gun")

22-20s: (Singing) Show me there's some tears behind your eyes. Oh, baby, won't you cry? Show me there's a hurt behind your eyes. Once...

BRAND: DAY TO DAY returns in a moment. I'm Madeleine Brand. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christian Bordal