The Damned and Dirty whose albums were awarded Best Dutch Blues Album three years in a row, release their brand new album, “Hoodoo Down” on the 20th November. The album sees the return of alumni Frank van Tijn on drums and Bram Slinger on organ and a Wurlitzer electric piano. Other contributors are pianist Hans Vroomans of the world famous Metropole Orchestra, saxophonist Rinus Groeneveld and violinist Joep van Beijnum. Marlou Vriens provided backing vocals on multiple tracks.
“Hoodoo Down” is an album with more of an experimental edge than previous The Damned and Dirty recordings. It’s a blues album that explores the outer reaches and the many different sounds that shape the genre. A big part of this album’s vibe is the tight and varied rhythm section that delivers an extremely solid collection of songs, continuing to broaden the musical path taken throughout The Damned and Dirty catalog.
The 12 tracks on the album forge fine craftsmanship that still sizzles with energy and excitement. I particularity like the way The Damned and Dirty embraces past, present and future, blending familiar influences and making it all somehow their own. Appealing to, but not limited to, those who love anything from the Delta Blues right up until the British interpretation of blues and rock born the mid to late sixties into the seventies. The Damned and Dirty brings the raw quality, intense sound and high style into the present day and beyond.
There is no question that this is a Delta blues album at its core, but you can hear the nuances of other genres that influence the playing and writing. Although I’m a fan of both acoustic delta blues and electric blues, I usually prefer electric style. The Damned and Dirty is one of the best in both categories, and this album, though predominantly acoustic, tops my list of any blues. Just listen to the title track “Hoodoo Down” and “Walking Stereotype”, now turn your ears to “The Porch Light”, “Got me Good Heart” or the “Golden Stairs”. See what I mean? Acoustic or electric, there is no difference in the quality of delivery for this duo and their cohorts who supply some sublime instrumentation.
There is so much built on blues out there, so much derived from it, that it is easy to forget where it all began. The Damned and Dirty is so raw, so unaffected by technical tricks or crafty ideas, so far from any pose, pretense or stereotypical imagery of show business that you feel actually privileged to be allowed to come into contact with their performances. It is like entering an empty temple in an unfamiliar foreign land: you have seen some of the signs, you have some of the knowledge about the faith, but the experience is new and humbling. This is what The Damned and Dirty deliver to the genre, which has become somewhat bastardized in recent years.
When you listen to this you feel like the Mississipi Delta has been transported to exactly where you are, even though there are many other sounds in this musical stew. There are so many great songs on “Hoodoo Down” it’s hardly worth the time and trouble trying to single out the pick of the bunch. Wherever you decide to press play, is as good a place to start as any other!