Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
It was a tag of derision, playful perhaps, but always one covered in the sentiment of dominance, of authority and a sense of the supreme, to be called short stuff may have been the dread of the day and led to the thought of one day you would show them just what short stuff meant. Now to be thought of being short stuff, it could lead to the person being thanked, congratulated on knowing the difference between good music and music that dominates, that has that keen eye for authority, one that is shrouded in the midst of power and waves of control; it is the stuff that makes up the Big Blue and one that has the upper hand when it comes to covering the classic of the day.
Big Blue sees the musicians that make up Short Stuff really take on the spirit laid down by such luminaries as Johnny Cash, John Mayall and J.J. Cale and not only offer perhaps emulate, a charming rendition but ones that radiate in many ways above those that came before. It is always a hard ask to improve upon such tragic beauty but for Dave Thomas, Hugh Gregory and Steve Jinks, the emulation is one placed with sincerity, with positive identification.
Ever since the mid 70s this band has thrilled the folk clubs and even though Time marches onwards like a well oiled machine, like a crazed despotic mechanism whose only job in life is to devour the souls of those willing to take it head on, groups like Short Stuff have blinded it, taken stabs at its corrupted heart and beaten Time at its own game, namely to keep on adding layers of protective cool music to its already highly polished shell.
As the album progresses and songs such as Johnny Cash’s Hey Porter, John Mayall’s Sitting In The Rain, Dan Hicks’ O’Reilly At The Bar and Terry McGhee’s Love’s A Disease capture the attention of the listener, the past becomes another country but one in which the attentive remember and the explorers cannot wait to survey with fresh eyes and renewed hope.
Big Blue, the last undiscovered section of the world, it only takes a moment to dive into this world to understand how creative and beautiful it can be.
Ian D. Hall