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| 6 August 2015 | Reply

April 2015
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Kevin Borich - Totem CD cover

If commercial radio was to be believed, ANZAC legend Kevin Borich has long been resigned to playing the cabaret circuit, but as Australian blues afficionados are well aware, nothing could be further from the truth.

Constantly touring and still releasing excellent music, Borich’s plight is similar to the plight of original blues legends of the forties and fifties – by the time a more popular music came along, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson et al were struggling to get any kind of attention outside of the odd juke joint, despite them being of pivotal influence to that new music.

Borich’s new double album Totem – his first new studio serving in 13 years, an extended period which included a battle with cancer – deserves to redress that: Blues festival organisers heads should be turning in his direction in much the same way as they did towards Russell Morris when he released his Sharkmouth album a few years ago.

Burrowing down deep into the blues, with the added punch of some hard rocking riffs and a smattering of funky money-maker-shakers, Borich shows his six-string skills are, if anything, better than ever: his playing is fantastic as he runs through a gamut of styles from the Southern blues of Stronghold, Money and Fight On; the ZZ Top-meets-Bo Diddley psych stomp of Get Outta Your Head; The Oz Blues of Another Freedom and the lush loveblues of Dream Together; before wrapping up with a balls out re-stomp through his 1971 hit with the La De Da’s, Gonna See My Baby Tonight.

Stylistically he pulls it all together, always sounding like the Borich we know and love, his fluid playing a vein of familiarity through each song, then just when we think we have the measure of him, you flip it over to the bonus second disc and he surprises everyone with the slinky, smoky jazz rock of Love Train. Here we see Borich’s tastefully swinging guitar take a temporary backseat to Steve Hall’s horns for some of it’s epic fourteen-and-a-half minutes.

Both Motif and Encounter sample the likes of JFK, Martin Luther King and David Suziki, whilst the lyrics throughout Totem explore socio-politico and spiritual themes as diverse (an unfair legal system, his recent fight with cancer, crop circles and the urgent need to simply get up and dance) as his ever-brilliant searing guitar playing.

Category: CD Reviews

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