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Blues Bash Music Review: Aynsley Lister – Everything I Need

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Where's Paul Revere when you need him? Or at least some guy on a horse running pell-mell through the streets yelling, "The British are coming, The British are coming!" Well to be more accurate it would be the Europeans are coming, but it just doesn't have the same ring, and a couple of them are Brits so you can still make a case for Paul and his horse.

Long ago, in a land far away, there lived some young middle class men who sought the wisdom of the ages from the wise old men of the Blues. And it came to pass that they formed rock and roll bands with names like The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and The Animals. These young men picked up their guitars, basses, and drums and went out into the world to play their music and the people listened and said that it was good.

They even took their music back to the homeland of the wise old men and the people there were amazed. "Where did this wonderful music come from?" they said not knowing it had been sung and played for years in their own land. But such had been the law of their land that the music of the wise old men had been kept from their compatriots due to the colour of their skin being a darker hue.

For a time the people of the United States of America "discovered" the blues and the music flourished. But as the years passed, it again fell out of fashion with only a few people still listening to it. The brave young men from Britain were now old but still had their faithful followings. New young stalwarts, however, had limited places to play and be heard.

But something wondrous was happening across the ocean in the lands known as the "Continent" or Europe, the people there had never lost their love of Blues and young people throughout the lands were following in the footsteps of the trailblazers of years gone by. And lo, they were joined by the children of the grand old men and many others from the homeland of the Blues and everyone rejoiced.

In Britain, where the renewal had begun those many years ago, a new generation was coming of age having listened to those who had blazed the original trail. They were prepared to enter the lists to preserve that legacy. Joining forces with the stalwarts of Europe and the Americas (Canada included), they have made the migration to that new hotbed of Blues: Germany.

Ruf Records had established itself as one of the foremost blues labels in the world for still active musicians, and the new up and coming stars of the blues from all over the world. Men and women of all nationalities are bringing their songs to them in the hopes they will take them to the world. And Ruf Records does just that.

One such young lad from England recording on the label is Aynsley Lister. With six recordings under his belt and extensive touring through out Europe, he has established himself as more than just the next big thing. He is able to settle down into a career where he is able to start finding his comfortable groove.

Along with fellow Brit Ian Parker and Finish whiz Erja Lyytinen, Aynsley recently completed recording the album Blues Pilgrimage: Mississippi To Memphis which saw the three young Europeans soaking up atmosphere and history to record in the birth places of their beloved music. But aside from that he has made little inroad into the American audience base with any releases scheduled for over here somehow just not working out.

But now North Americans will be able to get their first chance to listen to the young man from Britain as Ruf is reissuing his release from 2000, Everything I Need. In 2007 his seventh album is scheduled for worldwide release, and he will be coming to America for his first tour to show off his material and talent.
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If Everything I Need is any indication of what we can expect from Aynsley Lister, be prepared for a little of everything. He is equally at home with the harder rock versions of the blues as he is with the more expressive acoustic style, the slower and grittier Chicago style electric blues, and even soul and funk as was shown on the Blues Pilgrimage release.

Nine of the eleven tracks on Everything I Need are material Aynsley has written himself, which only proves how at home he is with the blues no matter what form it takes. The title track "Everything I Need" and the rambunctious "Soundman" show that he can rock with the best of them, while his cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" shows he can slow down but still play with power.

Not being particularly partial to that type of music, although I can appreciate the musicianship and talent involved in writing, creating, and performing the pieces, I was much more attracted to two of the acoustic tracks on the disc. His cover of Tony Joe White's "As The Crow Flies" and his own "Without You" prove that his abilities go beyond just being loud and fast.

It takes far more emotional commitment to the music to play acoustically where you have to do more than just belt out lyrics at high volume and can hide behind effects pedals. On these tracks he shows a voice that is comfortable to listen to and expressive without being melodramatic.

Unlike a lot of strictly hard rock performers these songs don't sound like the obligatory slow number to show how sensitive he can be. They sound every bit as natural and honest for Aynsley to be singing as any of the other songs on the disc. I think what I found most appealing about his acoustic numbers is he genuinely knows how to play an acoustic guitar. There's none of the wild strumming that sometimes marks an electric player who forays over to acoustic. In fact, he has a nice picking style, which while not flamboyant works well within the context of the songs he's playing.

If there is a drawback to this album, at least as far my tastes in music go, it is that he fronts a power trio made up of himself, a bassist, and a drummer. I've always found that particular formation to quickly become musically limiting and lead to a certain amount of monotony in the sound, particularly in the harder music. The power trio format ends up dictating to the performers what they can and cannot play and can end up being creatively stifling.

This has nothing to do with the individual talents of the musicians involved, just the fact they are curtailed by there being only so much guitar, bass, and drums can do without massive overdubbing and introducing of pre-recorded material. Sometimes, of course, it's a simple matter of economics. The gate split between three people goes further than when split between four, five, or six.

But like I said that's a matter of personal preference on my part and has nothing to do with the playing of Aynsley Lister and his band on the disc Everything I Need. If you are looking for a sneak peak at one of the second generation British invaders prior to Paul Revere needing to make a midnight run when Aynsley shows up our shores, than Everything I Need is the perfect disc. And don't worry – he's not here to conquer anything but your love of good music.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.