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Matt Hill – On The Floor

Deep Fryed/Vizztone 2010

14 tracks, 53.03 minutes.

Matt Hill is a new kid on the block, but he has some experienced friends! In his sleeve notes to the CD Bob Margolin explains that Matt has been featured on his shows and got a terrific response from the audiences. Bob has been so impressed with young Matt that he recorded most of this CD at his own studio in North Carolina. Chuck Cotton plays drums on all the tracks, producer Margolin contributes guitar and vocals on two tracks, Tad Walters harmonica on two tracks, Clark Stern piano on two tracks.

In addition, fellow Vizztone guitarist Dave Gross supplied his band for four tracks which were recorded at Dave’s studio in New Jersey. Here the drums are handled by Barry Harrison, with Scott Hornick on bass and Dave Gross on guitar.

Nine of the 14 tracks on offer were written by Matt himself, one by Bob Margolin, the remainder being four covers from a variety of sources. The material ranges from full band productions to more acoustic material, some of which reminds one of John Lee Hooker.

The CD starts in great style with an upbeat shuffle “Time Is Up”. The tune is a good introduction to Matt’s music with his clear voice and dynamic presence. Both this and the second track benefit from terrific rock’n’roll piano from Clark Stern and “Hellz Bellz” (yes, the AC/DC tune!) comes across like vintage Jerry Lee Lewis!

“Poor Circle” is a cornerstone song on the CD as it appears twice, in electric and acoustic versions. This is a song about Matt’s hometown and it paints a depressing picture of rural poverty. “Griddle Bread Boogie” is a lot more fun and is exactly what the title suggests, a boogie instrumental with lots of slide guitar. “I Tried To Love A Crazy Woman” is a slower tune which features Bob Margolin and Matt Hill trading licks. “30 Years Old” is pure rockabilly and may be autobiographical although if it is Matt has packed a lot of living into a short space of time!

“Stolen Bride Blues” is a solo piece about taking another man’s wife, apparently while she was still in her wedding dress! Matt’s character seems to accept that he is a bad lot: “I know I’ve done a bad thing, you shouldn’t steal another man’s bride: well, I’ve already bought my ticket down the hill, now I’m just here for the ride”. “Gasoline” is another JLH style boogie, with Chuck Cotton’s drums driving the riff along. The song depicts another slice of life on the poor side of the tracks, with just $2.00 to buy gas. “Why The F**k Do You Think I Cuss?” is Bob Margolin’s song, expressing frustration at some irritating things in his life – computers, cell phones, etc. Driven along by some nice rock n’ roll guitar from both men, this is a fun tune, though the chorus will probably prevent it appearing on radio!

That leaves the four tracks recorded in NJ with Dave Gross. These are bigger band productions and sound a little more ‘produced’ than the Margolin tracks. “Red Boots” is a Matt Hill original, an upbeat shuffle about a chance encounter with a young lady wearing the footwear of the title. The other original is “Children (That Ain’t Mine)”, another song about the hard life that some endure.

The two covers are “When I Get Drunk” by Eddie Burns, with guest Dennis Gruenling underpinning the song on harp. Horns provide a lovely blanket of sound to Johnny Guitar Watson’s “I’m Gonna Hit That Highway” and I assume that the excellent guitar solo is Matt’s. Both these covers are standout tracks on an impressive debut CD.

Bob Margolin’s sleeve notes suggest that Matt may well have what it takes to stand out from the crowd and I understand that he will be playing with Bob on the January LRBC cruise, so that should offer further opportunities to this young man who seems to have a bright future.

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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