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Francesco Greggio & Sucker Punch – Blue Homework

Self Release 2009

11 tracks, 48.59 minutes.

This is the first CD release from Francesco Greggio, a 28 year old Italian guitarist from Padova. His band Sucker Punch consists of Giorgio Bradaschia on bass, Gianmatteo Lucchin on drums and Chris Boulet on vocals. The CD offers a good mix of material, blending original material with some classic instrumentals from the blues canon.

The overall sound is clear and Francesco is a good player, as is well demonstrated on straight ahead versions of Freddie King’s “The Stumble” and SRV’s “Rude Mood”. There are five instrumentals in all, with a very nice take on Ben Tucker’s “Comin’Home Baby”, a hit for Herbie Mann in the 60s, and two originals by Francesco, “Chicken For Breakfast” and “Coffee And Lime”. The former offers an opportunity for Francesco to work on the chicken scratch style of guitar, but “Coffee And Lime” is a definite keeper – a mid-paced, latin feel to the tune allows Francesco to stretch out on guitar which remains very clear and clean throughout.

There are five songs with vocals. All are composed by Francesco and vocalist Chris Bouchet and they offer a good variety of styles, not all blues. One of the problems that bands from non-English-speaking backgrounds often have is singing in convincing English, but Chris Boulet does so very well. “The Fork” has a good lyric about choices in life and a vocal performance that reminded me of Steppenwolf’s John Kay in his prime. Opener “Time For Me” is more of a rock song with a good guitar break. One feature I did not like was the use of a sort of ‘radio commentary’: this occurs at the start of the first track and is again used during two other tracks. I found it a distraction from the music. Indeed, “Sucker Punch”, a jazzy feeling tune, is definitely marred by the final section of mock boxing commentary – a pity.

“Only Lover” is greatly enhanced by atmospheric, swirling guitar. In another era this might have been a radio-friendly single. Again, not blues, but pleasant. In contrast “Old Dog” is a classic slow blues, well played and sung.

Final track “Out Of The Nest” is a gentle ballad which might have found a place as a quiet tune on a Prog Rock album in the 70s. By the way, don’t eject the CD too soon as there is a hidden track at the end of the CD, another instrumental workout with excellent guitar.

Overall this CD grew on me as I listened to it. It has variety, good playing and decent vocals. It is available from CD Baby..

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He is currently looking forward to attending the Blues Blast Awards in Chicago in October.

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