Sunday, January 6, 2013

Irish Teens The Strypes Evoke 60s British Rhythm & Blues Brilliantly!

The Strypes are four lads from Cavan, Ireland, ranging in age from 14 to 16, who, in the past few months, have made a big impression in Ireland, England, and beyond.

Listen to them here:

Check out their videos below. They really capture the vibe of the early 60s British rhythm & blues scene, despite the fact that they were born in the late-90s. If you like early Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Who, and The Animals, make room in your music library for The Strypes. Check 'em out!

It seems that these lads went quickly from listening to 1960s British blues to the real thing, i.e. Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and other early Mississippi bluesmen. It's a natural progression - you start off with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and before you know it, you're reading T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. It's only a matter of time before you're trying to read Dante in Italian.

The story of the frenzy for the blues in England in the early 60s is a strange one. What post-war British teens had in common with Mississippi Delta field-workers descended from slaves is hard to gauge. Even stranger is the fact that they were able to turn around and sell the blues back to clueless American teens. Seems like every British band at the time was covering songs like "Spoonful". It's understandable why the songs resonated - rarely have songs evoked such authenticity, grit, and resilience in the face of struggle. It's just that the context seems as far removed as the physical distance between Tunica County (Mississippi) and Essex. I met a middle-aged British man in India a few years back who claimed to have spent a good deal of his high school years smoking dope with Brian Jones at his grandmother's house and listening to Robert Johnson on the record player. Maybe it was true, maybe not, but the fact is, scenes like the one he described were happening all over Britain at that time. Some of those records were hard to come by in England at the time, and knowing those records made one part of a secret underground club that eventually became some of the most popular music in Britain. The blues legacy of bands such as The Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, The Who are often noted, but its influence was even wider than that. I didn't used to think of Led Zeppelin as a "blues band", but lo and behold, that's how they started. They even had a lawsuit for using parts of old blues songs in their songs and claiming it as their own. I never understood how the Rolling Stones could even try to claim Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain" as a "Jagger-Richards" composition, since Robert Johnson's work was well-known to British music insiders at the time. Similarly, Bob Dylan used part of Son House's "New Pony" in his own song of the same name (later covered by Jack White's Dead Weather) without crediting Son House at all.

Despite all the cultural "borrowing", the British rhythm and blues scene produced some great music, opening the doors for the British Invasion of the US, and inspiring nearly all of the best music of the 60s and 70s.

Now these Irish kids have dusted off their parents' old albums and are doing it again. Could it lead to another blues revival and another British Invasion? Or maybe an Irish invasion this time...

Here's an article from The Guardian (UK) about them:

The Strypes 

If they were any more faithful to 1962, the Strypes would be marvelling at Brazil having just won a second World Cup, and wondering if Harold Macmillan could stay on as prime minister
by Paul Lester

Cavan, Ireland.

The lineup: Ross Farrelly (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion), Josh McClorey (lead guitar, keyboards, vocals), Pete O'Hanlon (bass, harmonica), Evan Walsh (drums).

The background: The Strypes are four teenagers, aged between 14 and 16, although a couple of them look even younger. They come from Cavan in Ireland but, inevitably, as soon as people hear them they will say they sound as though they just crawled out of the Cavern – they pretty accurately recreate the sort of raw R&B sound the Beatles would have been making 50 years ago today in that legendary Liverpool club. But if you're not overly familiar with that crude primeval noise, it might equally make you think of the early Rolling Stones at another famous venue – the Crawdaddy, in Richmond.

The point is, the Strypes are into faithful period recreation, devoting their energies to making sonic replicas of music that would have been current when their grandparents were around. That is astonishing when you think about it. It is the analogue (pun intended) of the White Stripes' 1963 fetishism, only here they are homing in specifically on the Brit-beat boom penchant for US blues, when English bands such as the Stones channelled their love of the form through the newly minted guitar/bass/drums formation. Like their forebears, the Strypes reveal that they have been working backwards, too, discovering R&B via the bluesologists of the early 60s. "The whole blues thing really came out of a shared love for the Beatles," they have said, explaining that the Fabs led them to the Stones and then the Yardbirds, the Animals and the Who, and back to Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter and Slim Harpo. "We're the antithesis of contemporary music," they say.

Well, not exactly. Every few years a band will come along and demand a return to basics, rejecting the fripperies of the modern recording studio and any manifestations of musical excess. But today, when there are all types of music being made all of the time, you could hardly argue there has been a dearth of this stuff. And besides, we weren't aware that we had just been living through a period of baroque grandeur, likethe punks could claim in 1976. Still, that would appear to be the Strypes' belief, that it is their mission to purge the music scene of magniloquent pomp, hence their steadfast adherence to the old ways, and the preponderance of covers in their set – not refashioned, but with an impressive degree of fidelity.

So here they come, in their matching suits and shades, in all their monochrome, tinny, high-energy glory, joining Jake Bugg to restart the campaign for real rock, kick Simon Cowell's karaoke kids into touch and twist and shout like there's no tomorrow, which for them, musically speaking, would undoubtedly be a blessing, unless it was a future that merely comprised endless versions of what happened half a century ago. Next: the Lonnie Donegan revival, followed by a period of serious worship for Glenn Miller.

The buzz: "In a musical climate where everything is loop pedals and sampling, sometimes it's nice to say 'fuck off' to all of that and bring everything back to basics, which this tune does brilliantly" – Sabotage Times.

The truth: They make Jake Bugg look like Jake Shears.

Most likely to: Muse on the nature of authenticity.
Least likely to: Support Muse.
What to buy: The Young Gifted & Blue EP is available to buy from iTunes.
File next to: The Beatles, the Quangos, Jake Bugg, Cast.

Doing a cover of Jack White's cover of "I'm Shakin'"...

 .... and why not a Howlin' Wolf cover too...

pictured with Paul Weller...

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