If you are a Zubland regular, you know I am a huge fan of Peter Holsapple and his (now disbanded) combo. We did an extensive Podcast about the dB’s a while back at tinyurl.com/zubamplifier. Peter’s solo career went on hiatus for a while, ten years or so, but he came back recently with the fine Game Day solo LP (on Omnivore Records), on which he played pretty much everything himself.
We saw him last year with his new combo, Will Rigby (of the dB’s/Steve Earle) on drums and vocals and the fine Glenn Jones on Fender bass and vocals. That review is at tinyurl.com/zubphc. The combo really brought out some of the songs from Game Day, more rocking and swinging.
This brings us to Amplifier EP, a five song, (250 copies only) self released 12” record on red vinyl. The songs were recorded live at Boston’s Q Division studio, and they were going for a live-before an audience vibe as opposed to a studio recording with some fans. The result is a bit of an intentional bootleg sound, but the performances are stellar.
The EP opens up with ‘In Too Deep,’ from Game Day, with a loping dB’s feel and a desperate vocal, it’s a classic Holsapple tune. This is followed by a new tune, ‘That Kind Of Guy,’ about record collectors, the kind of guy who has “Bix Beiderbecke tattooed on his neck,” who has the whole Stooges “Down On The Street reliquary,” and has “Brian Jones’ shoe from the bottom of the pool.” It is the most fun, wonderful song I’ve heard in a long time and it makes this record.
There is a top-notch version of the dB’s ‘Amplifier,’ slightly rearranged and elongated. Peter kills the guitar solos throughout. This is probably Peter’s best known song and he is doing well to embrace it. ‘I Can’t Keep From Crying’ is a blues staple by Blind Willie Johnson famously covered by Ten Years After, but the PHC version follows the Blues Project cover from 1966 on their Projections LP. That band featured Al Kooper before he left to form Blood, Sweat and Tears, and it’s fun to hear Peter tear into some rockin’ blues.
The last song is ‘Don’t Mention The War,’ a terrifying and sad tale of a relative broken by service overseas. Uncle Lonnie, the protagonist of the song, is now a nightmare fueled blackout drunk following whatever happened to him in the war. The song is a dirge of sorts but heartfelt and lyrically incisive. It was released as a solo single in 2017.
We recently saw the combo at Christmas (see tinyurl.com/zubphcguests), where they played all these songs and never sounded better. This is a must have EP with some top notch material. The band will go on indefinite hiatus in February, with Glenn Jones releasing his third solo CD and Peter booking some solo gigs. They are so good together, Will, Peter, and Glenn. We hope the musical fates bring them together again soon. This EP is a pretty good simulacrum of seeing the band live, so it will help fill the gap in the interim. Fans of Peter’s work definitely will want to get this EP. Quickly, before they are all gone!
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