Joe Bone and the Dark Vibes
Four Shades Of Dark (Grass Roots Records)
Ex- Coffins man returns to the fray with a real blind-sider of a release. With added Alabama 3 for good measure. Louder Than War’s Joe Whyte reviews.
Joe Bone was erstwhile frontman and leader of The Coffins who flamed out spectacularly after a couple of cracking releases and some fairly unhinged shows around these parts. Joe is probably the bastard offspring of other Glaswegian headcases in the mold of Alex Harvey or Frankie Miller and The Coffins were always a baw-hair away from self-combusting at any given time. Despite this, their two albums (Bob’s Shed and a self-titled job) are well worth seeking out for a taste of the grubby, booze-and-chemical-tainted punk blues that they patented so very well.
Having dropped off the radar for a short while, it was a very pleasant surprise to see Joe’s new venture coming to fruition. The subject matter may not have changed much, but the delivery certainly has and it’s very good indeed. Joe Bone deals in the darker part of the human psyche; murder, addiction, stalkers and other happy affairs. His voice is all Old Testament declaiming and sinister blues. His band, this time, are as far from The Coffins as is possible. Strutting, sleazy basslines, lonely sax outbursts and creamy, fluid Farfisa organ swells sit uneasily with Bone’s disquieting crooner-man voice. With his vocal foil Sue McLeod adding a touch of sensuality to proceedings, The Dark Vibes have taken hints from jazz, the delta blues and country-gothic and given it a Glaswegian make-over.
The EP is a four-tracker which is trailing an album due for release this summer and also has the added talents of Alabama 3 frontman The Very Rev. D. Wayne Love on “The Exorcist” and “Jazzhead”. Incidentally, from what remains of my memories of the late 70’s, Mr Wayne Love was one half of Parkie And Jake, a demented Glasgow punk two-piece who were crazier than John Otway and Wild Willy Barratt and took shed-loads of cheaper drugs. Anyway, I digress.
The four songs herein are classy, clever and multi-layered; Bone is one of the city’s smarter sons and I sincerely hope that this is his time at last. This will be the first release for him with record company backing and if anyone deserves it, it is he. Always there to support new bands, always standing up for the wee guy and always doing the right thing.
“The Exorcist” sets the tone with it’s deep groove and Bad Seeds-style narrative. The band are clearly no slouches and take the simple things and do them well. “King Of The Blues” is similarly elegant and Bone knows how to make the seemingly pleasant really quite disturbing. He’s produced it himself, too, and it really is a testament to the man’s single-mindedness that he’s taken his ideas and made it reality. There isn’t another band in the city like them right now.
Words by Joe Whyte. You can read more of Joe’s writing at his Louder Than War’s authors archive.