Back Door Slam, Roll Away and Special EP
The blues-rock power trio is dead?... Long live the blues-rock power trio! Back Door Slam is the real thing. The group, which hails from the Isle of Man, may be barely legal in age, but singer-guitarist Davy Knowles has the grown-up, gritty sound, both vocally and on guitar, demanded by the tradition of Clapton, Gov't Mule, and Robert Cray.
A few tasteful acoustic numbers break up the heavy feel of Roll Away, their debut CD. "Too Late" is a pretty power ballad, but even here Knowles's guitar craftsmanship rides front and center. Ably backed up by bassist Adam Jones and drummer Ross Doyle, and fueled by a deep absorption of the electric blues, Knowles' assured riffs and solos would carry the songs even if the writing weren't inherently good. But in a genre where spectacular playing is sometimes allowed to substitute for songcraft, Back Door Slam's songs stand up well - especially for such a young group.
In addition to Roll Away, a full-length CD of mostly original songs, they've recently released a download-only EP of covers on which they display their more straight-up blues chops. Knowles wails and shreds with brash confidence on a ten-minute live version of "Red House," while the band shows how tight and sharp it can be on John Hiatt's "Riding With the King," the Doors' "Been Down So Long," and a few more.
If there's still a place in the world for guitar heroes and for power trios with a timeless crunch, put Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam on the up-and-coming short list. In a world of hyper-talented young musicians, this is truly impressive stuff, because it feels real.