Big Al and the Blistering Buicks
LEMON ROCK REVIEW Big Al Reed is a big, big man and looks an imposing figure as he fronts his band of virtuoso musicians. Standing 6 feet 4 inches in his stocking feet Big Al is vastly experienced in the world of showbiz. After starting out as a drummer he became a full-time comedian performing in clubs, theatres, cruise ships and on the after-dinner speaker circuit. He was the warm-up man for Des O'Connor's Take Your Pick and has been support act for many major stars. But for the last few years Big Al has returned to his first love of music and right now he fronts the Blistering Buicks.
These guys can really play as they demonstrated on their opening number, the Booker T classic "Green Onions", at plush Sally B's upstairs bar. The five band members gave it their own personal musical stamp with fantastic solos by twin lead guitarists Leigh Heggarty (currently also working with the Ruts dc) and Pete Kerr.
Big Al then stepped on stage and his charisma and humour quickly shone through. Commenting on the small attendance at the start he quipped: "You could have all just come to my front room". His humour makes a refreshing change from many acts who simply tell you the title of the next song or say nothing at all.
What is so enjoyable about Big Al and the Blistering Buicks is that the song choice is anything but predictable. The Henry Mancini/Duane Eddy instrumental "Peter Gunn" (featuring Big Al on tenor sax), Bruce Springsteen's little-known "Shackled And Drawn" and the Travelin' Wilburys' "Handle With Care" are not the run-of-the-mill numbers you hear from most pub and club acts yet they include the 'regulars' too like, the Rolling Stones' stomper "Brown Sugar" (which the entire band performed to perfection), Johnny Kidd and the Pirates'" Shakin' All Over" and Muddy Waters' blues standard "Hoochie Coochie Man". Big Al and the Blistering Buicks presented one of the most enjoyable shows I've seen in months.
The tight rhythm section comprises bass player Dave Jenkins and 'smiling' drummer David Atkinson; while keyboard man Chris Holmes (a former member of hit sixties' band Timebox) adds some magic on piano and the Hammond organ. Other highlights of their show at Sally Bs were a 'blistering' performance of REM's Everybody Hurts; a rousing country number -- Big & Rich's Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy; and, most unusually, the 1978 punk number Jilted John. Big Al with his powerful vocalsand the boys are one of the best bands on the circuit. Do try to catch them if they come to a venue near you Colin Fenn, DJ, journalist, Tue 9th Sep 2014