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Blues Extensions, Vol 1 by Paul Speidel Band

Paul Speidel is a blues/jazz electric guitarist from the Boston area. Paul grew up around the Chicago area, and you can definitely hear the influence in his style of blues. On this debut CD from his band, we get almost 50 minutes of education in instrumental electric guitar blues. Paul, along with bassist Ed Spargo and drummer Brendan Byrnes, covers a variety of tempos and styles, while staying within the blues category. I think there is something here for everyone. This is not just another blues bar band jamming. These are all pro level players. The CD was mostly recorded live, and this helps to capture some excitement in the performance.

"The Opener" kicks this disc off with an up-tempo blues shuffle, not unlike Stevie Ray Vaughn or Buddy Guy. Paul does a great job carrying both rhythm and leads on his electric guitar, while still keeping that blues/rock vibe alive. "Skritchy-Skratchy" is more of a blues/jazz piece, featuring a B.B. King type feel (although Paul is a bit faster on the guitar). The rhythm section of Brendan on drums, and Ed on bass do a solid job of holding down a groove, giving Paul the foundation to solo. "Hear My Cry/Breakdown" is a mid-tempo blues track, where Paul gets a chance to show us some of his rock chops. You can hear the passion in his guitar, while still feeling the fun of the music. The medley into "Breakdown" is a very cool change and interesting to the ear. The up-tempo ending takes on a gospel feel, complete with walking bass. All that’s missing is the choir. "Slowburn" is the perfect name for this track. A slow blues shuffle with Paul exploring a variety of textures and tones on his guitar. It reminded me of Buddy Guy or even Johnny Winter. "Motor Cycle" has that "traveling down route-66" groove. This is a nice mid-tempo shuffle rhythm, with Paul sticking to a more traditional electric jazz role. Plenty of key changes, tempo changes, and even a time signature are all brought together in a very interesting piece that doesn’t lose its overall theme. This is one of the highlights for me. "E-Mail ‘E’ Rag" is a short piece played on an acoustic guitar, and it has a "back porch" feel to it. This is a mid-tempo piece, not unlike what you’d expect to hear as background music for a walk down to a fishing pond. This offers a break from the electric guitar feel, and serves that purpose well. It shows some additional versatility to Paul’s talents. "A Married Thang" is the only full studio track on this release, and it is a mid-tempo blues shuffle with Paul combining his blues styles with his jazz. The rhythm section does a great job of keeping this one moving. "D-Bop Blues" finishes off the disc with a more jazz influenced piece. This is an up-tempo shuffle, which has many typical jazz moments (drum and guitar trade-offs, walking bass, etc). It’s a great little closer, and leaves a smile on your face. Good ending for this disc.

Overall, I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who is a fan of instrumental electric guitar blues. If you like the styles of Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, and even some Stevie Ray Vaughn, you will certainly like this one. This is a great debut release.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Paul Speidel Band
  • CD Title: Blues Extensions, Vol 1
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: PSP Recordings
  • Tracks: The Opener, Skritchy-Skratchy, Hear My Cry/Breakdown, Slowburn, Motor Cycle, E-Mail “E” Rag, (It’s) A Married Thang, D-Bop Blues
  • Musicians: Paul Speidel (guitar), Brendan Byrnes (drums), Ed Spargo (bass)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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