Having visited three of the world famous American music destinations in Nashville, Austin and Memphis, the latter of this trio was the one with the most mystique, aura and feeling that you were experiencing something special. 706 Union Avenue is far from the most imposing tourist attraction but it’s within the walls that matters most to music historians, connoisseurs and genuine fans. British skiffle/blues band The Dodge Brothers was certainly starry eyed on their visit to Sun Studios and while many people leave with some souvenir containing the iconic picture of the Million Dollar Quartet, they left with the recordings that laid the foundations of their third album THE SUN SET.
Comprising of ten original tracks which the band proudly state are self written old songs rather than new ones, The Dodge Brothers have tuned into the spirit of Sun to re-ignite the sound that revolutionised music in its day and has an eternal preservation label permanently attached to it. The driving rhythm of double bass, washboard, drums, guitar et al hurtles you through a forty minute sprint of shameless retro where you survive a ‘Trainwreck’ before reaching a ‘Wildflower’ destination.
The making of this record was captured for airing by Radio 2 last year with the Mark Goes To Memphis documentary where double bass and harmonica player Mark Kermode used his day job presenting skills to enthuse about the band’s passion. Along with the Hammond Brothers, Mike and Al, and the band’s guitar/mandolin playing producing publicist Aly Hirjl, the four piece Dodge Brothers have produced a commendable and memorable piece of unspoilt Americana to create their small slice of the Sun legacy which exists within all modern day exponents of rock n’ roll.
The previously mentioned track, ‘Trainwreck’ rises to the top of the rankings with its sheer power and magnetism that certainly doesn’t derail the album. However it’s not all frenetic offerings as ‘Strange Weather’ ambles through at a tuneful and pedestrian pace. The wonderfully titled ‘ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) Blues’ is another of the album’s peaks with an infectious beat while ‘Banker’s Blues’ opens with a flavour of the delta sound before launching into the signature Sun tempo which took a form of the blues into the stratosphere of commercial riches.
The album pauses for another breather with the banjo led ‘Mr Jones’ before picking up the pace on the harmonica laced ‘Bye Bye. ‘Ghost House’ moves up the gears mid song while 'Last Highway' throbs to the beat of the road which just leaves the opening and closing tracks to consider. ‘Singled Out’ gets the album off to a flying start with the help of a toe tapping and head shaking drum backbeat while ‘Wildflower’ sees the band bring the Sun inspired juggernaut to a safe and almost serene ending in comparison.
Make no mistake THE SUN SET is an album to be treasured and is a refreshing reminder of how roots music manages to remain relevant by harnessing the past and steering it into the future. The Dodge Brothers demonstrate a passion, desire and talent to make themselves important players in ensuring this process thrives in twenty first century Britain.
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