In true British Parliamentary tradition, I must declare an interest. Late in 2003 I went to see a band in England’s Southend area. The support that night was Blackbud, an impossibly young band from Wiltshire in the west of the country. Apparently they had started out doing covers of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and they had clearly learnt well. I was mesmerized by this group of three young men who showed a maturity well beyond their obviously young ages.
In singer/lead guitarist Joe Taylor they had someone with a huge on stage charisma. On fretless bass, yes fretless, was Adam Newton who reminded me of Free’s Andy Fraser in his style of playing. On drums was the impressive Sam Nadel. Such was the strength of their performance that I have subsequently forgotten who I actually went there to see. I bought their only release at that point, a seven track CD, called Mostly Live. It contained the main features of their live act back then such as “Jackie D” and “Circles”.
It was the bands style, along with the amazing musicianship and stage presence, that caught my ear and eye that night. There doesn’t seem to be a review written that doesn’t compare Joe Taylor to Jeff Buckley, among others, and that is one of the names I was banding around enthusiastically to anyone that would listen after this first time of seeing them. Clearly, this band had grown up in households, the occupants of which, must have listened to some excellent music. It obviously filtered through and here was Blackbud playing some of the most impressive live music I had heard for a long time. The difference was clear. This was not just some keen young rock band blasting out standard riffs – this was altogether something far more complex and compelling. The promise was obvious and if I had possessed the musical wherewithal and vision necessary I would have been begging them to allow me to manage them.
I watched from afar and regularly logged on to their website to keep tabs on their progress. I was delighted when they won the best unsigned band at Glastonbury circa 2004 and equally pleased when they signed to Independiente Records. My delight was complete when in 2006, they released their first album From the Sky and now I have the privilege of reviewing it. I was not to be in any way, shape or form disappointed. From the Sky is the fulfilment of that early promise that I had witnessed first hand but it also has something else.
There is an additional quality to their song writing and a confidence in their ability that just drips potential. Joe Taylors singing has become even more certain and despite the obvious comparisons he now sounds like, um, Joe Taylor. Adam Newton, the all too brilliant fretless bass player, and drummer Sam Nadal are still as tight as whatever simile you care to use. This is a band that, in a just world, would be further along the path to greater recognition.