REVIEWS

 

R2 magazine

* * * * Giant From the Blue (Arone)

This album sees Fletcher (bassist and composer for The Blues Band) taking centre stage for the first time on record since 2007; he’s also just released an entirely solo album, ‘In Solitary’, at the same time. The band consists of Fletcher singing and playing his own songs on acoustic guitar, backed by his son Jack on bass, Pick Withers (Dire Straits) on drums, and Steve Ling on electric guitar. There are also strong contributions from trumpeter Guy Barker, Mark Feltham from Nine Below Zero on harmonica, and Kokomo on backing vocals. This might be a blues album played by aging white Brits (Note from GF - Pick and I are knocking on a bit but I should point out that Steve and Jack are sub 30 years old!) but, thankfully, it’s also an album free of masturbatory guitar solos or embarrassing attempts to sound like Muddy Waters. Instead we have a collection of strong songs performed with taste, intelligence and dignity and, while it may not rock very hard (the acoustic rather than the electric guitar is to the fore here), there’s a nice sense of space and atmosphere throughout, which makes ‘Gian From the Blue’ a pleasure to listen to.

Martin Dowsing

From Maverick magazine

 

Review from Fatea of Fletcher Leary at the Great British Folk Festival

The music starts with the Blues Band's Gary Fletcher, who made a late night run following that band's gig in Weston-Super-Mare on the Saturday. If he's feeling the distance there's no sign of it as he kicks into a set that is surprisingly political and a great experience to feel that the Great British Folk Festival is a place where artists can feel fully at home playing a wide range of songs. About a third of the way in, Gary is joined by fiddler, Tom Leary, probably best known from Feast Of Fiddles, but also a multitude of other combos. Tom adds some additional bite to the sound and they really show themselves to be a duo that's stronger than the some of it's parts, even when those parts are as impressive as this. The flavour stays blues, but does take on a more folky influence, similarly the subject matter of the songs seems to get that bit darker as well. Blues is at its best when its focusing on injustice and I think it would be fair to say that there is a lot of injustice around at the moment for the like of Gary Fletcher to work with.

Neil King

Review of ‘Human Spirit’ CD from Germany’s ‘Good Times’ magazine issue 90 Oktober/November 2007

Uberaus erstaunliche Soloplatte des Langjahrigen Bassisten der britischen Blues Band. Gary Fletcher liefert gleich mit „Payback“ einen munteren, freundlich Folk-grundierten Pop-Auftakt, aber definitiv keinen Blues – und diese Linie zieht er bis zum Schluss konsequent durch. „Can’t Get Arrested“ ist ein flotter Traber mit Drang zu Hoherem. Der Spitzensong „You Can’t Quit Your Love For Me“ wird durch Brit-Country-Einflusse a la McGuinness Flint oder Gallagher & Lyle gepragt. Hingegen kommen „Wake Me When It’s Over“ und „Solanki’s Knife“ als butterweiche, akustisch gehaltene Balladen. Der hubsche Folkrocker „So Lonely“ uberrrascht mit einem subtilen, haargenau passenden Gitarrensolo. Ein Hohepunkt dieses Albums, das seinen zweiten in „You Are True“ hat, einem „fast schon richtig rockenden“ Song mit felsenfester Melodie. Die Platte endet wurdevoll mit dem schon verhaltenen „You Took Me To The Edge“. Insgesamt ist HUMAN SPIRIT ein unauffalliges Werk der Meisterklasse, das Gary Fletcher (voc, g) mit Spitzenkraften wie den Blues-Band-Kollegen Rob Townsend (dr) und Paul Jones (harp), Keyboarder Lou Stonebridge sowie den Whitesnake-Leuten Micky Moody und Bernie Marsden sowie Dennis Greaves und Mark Feltham von Nine Below Zero in Eigenregie horbar stressfrei eingesielt hat.

BGO/Soulfood, 12/49:34)                                                                                                   hjg

Following translation by Wolfgang Pieker

Gary Fletcher – Human Spirit

Extremely amazing solo-album from long time Blues Band bass player. For a start Gary Fletcher delivers PAYBACK, a friendly folk-based pop song, which is definitely no blues. CAN’T GET ARRESTED is a fast trotter. The super song YOU CAN’T QUIT YOUR LOVE FOR ME is brit-country, influenced by McGuinness-Flint or Gallagher & Lyle. WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER and SOLANKI’S KNIFE are wonderful soft acoustic ballads. SO LONELY is a lovely folk-rocker with a subtle guitar solo and one of the highlights of the album. Another highlight is YOU ARE TRUE, a rockin’ song with a rock-solid melody. With YOU TOOK ME TO THE EDGE the album ends in a grand mood. Overall HUMAN SPIRIT is an understated masterpiece, which Gary Fletcher (voc, guitar) recorded with first class musicians like Blues Band colleagues Rob Townsend (drums) and Paul Jones (harp), as well as keyboarder Lou Stonebridge, Whitesnake guys Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden, plus Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham from Nine Below Zero.

BGO/Soulfood, 12/49:34)                                                                                                   hjg

Blues Matters

Gary Fletcher – Human Spirit

The production is peerless, and songs such as May You Now Find Peace and Solanki’s Knife (a heart-rending tribute to the surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital who saved Jack Fletcher’s life) are utterly moving examples of the composer’s craft. Fletcher’s vocals are spot on, as is his acoustic guitar playing and the bass played by Jack Fletcher. All 12 tracks are Fletcher originals, and there’s plenty of blues – think J.J. Cale blended with Sleepy John Estes, Mark Knopfler and a dash of Pops Staples and you’re in the right area. After almost three decades, The Blues Band remain as one the few major musical institutions never to be invited onto Jools Holland’s TV show, but Gary Fletcher’s impressive breakthrough may well change all that. A truly inspiring album, already picked up by Radio 2’s Bob Harris, this is tender and stirring in equal measure, revealing the emergence of a major solo talent. That oft-quoted Blues Band axiom “We don’t bother the music industry and they don’t bother us” may well have to be overhauled.’ ROY BAINTON

Amazon:5.0 out of 5 stars Human Spirit : a true masterpiece!  21 Nov 2007

By: Moneypenny (Chobham, Surrey)

At long last Gary Fletcher has emerged from the shadow of the Blues Band and has proved that he is a seriously talented singer/songwriter in his own right. "Human Spirit" addresses real issues and no-one can fail to be moved by the raw emotion and honesty apparent in so many of the tracks. This is a slick, highly professional album featuring some superb guest artists. However, as mentioned in previous reviews, the music and lyrics are what make this great. Don't hesitate to buy this album - it's awesome and deserves as wide an audience as possible.

Amazon:5.0 out of 5 stars Human Spirit : The first album was good but this is better 14 Nov 2007

By: A music fan (Chessington, Surrey)

I love it. The first two reviews say almost everything there is to say. Gary Fletcher's well-crafted and emotional songs, bolstered by the various guest artists and musicians, are very very good and in places so very honest that they assume brilliance. If you talk to him after Blues Band gigs you discover that he is also incredibly modest. If he were better known this would sell by the shed load. Instead most people will probably never hear it. A great pity. If in doubt, risk the outlay. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday Life / Belfast Telegraph 29 July 2007:

Likeable, shuffling, understated blues in a J J Cale vein from Gary Fletcher on Human Spirit (BGO)

TALKSPORT : The Mike Mendoza Show  www.themikemendozashow.co.uk 18 July 2007:

Probably known as the bass player in The Blues Band, Gary Fletchers song writing talent is respected by many.  In the past year or two, Gary has started to perform solo having stepped forward to the lead microphone with the Blues band. Gary usually plays left handed on an upside down right handed guitar!.. adding an interesting twist to his finger picking, whilst creating quite a unique sound.  Gary's first solo album Human Spirit, long awaited by many fans, has just been released after 25 years and if you like understated, quality R & B, its been worth the wait.

Gary popped into the studio early Monday morning to chat about his career, his music, his new CD and perform live in the studio with his guitar.  If you want to keep up to date with Gary Fletcher, have a look at his website www.garyfletchermusic.co.uk

Dorset Echo, 6 July 2007:

It’s back to the stereo for the last item under the microscope this week, namely the Human Spirit album by Blues Band bassist and mainstay Gary Fletcher. Perhaps less celebrated than some of his more high-profile bandmates, Fletcher has nevertheless been quietly nurturing a rather profound songwriting talent for some years now, and the album is a low-key but absorbing triumph. Using blues music as a jumping-off point, Fletcher deftly avoids any of the stylistic limitations to which the genre is often prone by keeping the melody quotient high and the lyrical content sincere. Like a more credible Mark Knopfler or a more animated J J Cale, this is rootsy fare with impeccably underplayed musicianship, at its most effective on emotive songs such as Solanki’s Knife, about the surgeon who saved Fletcher’s son’s life.   -   MARCO ROSSI

The Bob Harris Show, Radio 2, 25 June 2007

Gary Fletcher : Human Spirit

“The new album is called ‘Human Spirit’ and it’s out now on the BGO record label.” .......... "Some great names on this album and it's excellent." ............. "Very pleasantly Mark Knopflerish."

“Gary Fletcher in the studio with us  … and I played that track (‘Payback’) a few weeks ago now, Gary, & the the reaction I got to it was just absolutely fantastic.  I really was amazed, you know, by how many emails I got and how enthusiastic everybody was about that track.”

“It’s been a real pleasure, Gary - thank you very much indeed for being here and playing so brilliantly.”

Lancashire Telegraph, 22 June 2007:

GARY FLETCHER : Human Spirit (Universal)  LONGTIME Blues Band bassist Gary Fletcher makes his solo debut after 25 years - and if you like understated, quality R&B it’s been worth the wait. Boasting a who’s who of R&B, it’s a subtle offering a little reminiscent of Dire Straits.  Some real quality.  -   JOHN ANSON

Amazon :  Human Spirit, 16 Jun 2007

Reviewer: J. Yonge "Catfish" (Haslemere, Surrey, UK)

I have found that this album "Human Spirit", was very enjoyable and interesting to listen to. The second track "May You Now Find Peace" is especially a very remarkable, memorable and beautiful song. It was obviously written from the heart and intended to soothe the sadness of persons who have lost loved ones, or gone through troubled times.  All the tracks on "Human Spirit" have been written by Gary Fletcher, except for "So Lonely" which was written by Gary Fletcher, Steve Gurl and Hilary Fletcher. This CD has been very painstakingly put together by Gary Fletcher and Bill Gautier. Amongst the artists who guest on this album are Dave Kelly, Rob Townsend, Lou Stonebridge, Mark Feltham and Paul Jones. Some of the songs are bluesy, but "May You Now Find Peace" is folky. "You Are True" is very funky.  "Human Spirit" also contains some very interesting and thought provoking songs, such as "Can't Get Arrested", "Solanki's Knife", "You Took Me To The Edge" and "A Lie Is A Lie".  I am going to really enjoy listening to this CD over and over again. It is the sort of amazing album that you can never get tired of listening to. I find that it is altogether an outstanding masterpiece and well worth buying.

Portsmouth News - Bullfrog Blues @ The Alma, March 21st 2007

A great night of interesting guitar playing and great songs. Gary played left-handed on an "upside down" right-handed guitar. This adds an interesting twist to his finger picking, creating quite a unique sound which Gary used to great advantage. We were presented with a varied set featuring many of the songs Gary has written for The Blues Band, and a few new ones to feature on his forthcoming album, 'Human Spirit'. Some interesting covers were scattered through the set including Eric Bibb's "Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down", and Willie Dixon's "Same Thing", both expertly reinterpreted to give versions very personal to Gary. A great evening with culminated with a stomping acoustic version of "Green Stuff".  One of those evenings that surprise and delight throughout. ANDY BROAD

From Blues In Britain, Issue 39.  (condensed version of review)

The Goldsmiths Arms, London W3 30/1/05 :  .............  Kien, a talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, started the evening with a half hour set of original and melodic acoustic pop.  Gary Fletcher, moonlighting from his regular job as the bass player in The Blues Band, matched the standard and then raised it again.  Gary, a left-hander, plays a conventionally strung right-hander's guitar.  He advised us not to try to pick up guitar tips as they would be confusing.  However one had to envy and want to emulate his ability.  He too played original material ........ Gary introduced every song with an explanation of what each one was about or how he came to write it .........  The time rang out all too soon .... There is music in the current Gary Fletcher repertoire for a least another set, but Sunday night has a 10.30pm curfew.  This was quality music to start the year.  -  Fran Leslie

8 March 2005: Part of a bulletin board (RCCGB) review posting of the Dick Heckstell-Smith tribute gig :

Next we were treated to a nice little solo spot from Gary Fletcher, who plays bass with Paul Jones's "The Blues Band". He is also a great guitar player, and the first number he performed had me gaping with wonder. Beautiful sound from the 12-string, and the song was gorgeous. He was very self-effacing, and kept saying he'd get off stage quick to let the monster names carry on with the show! Silly bloke. He was fantastic.

From Blues Matters! Feb/March 2005:

The close of the year saw yours truly invited to sit in with GARY FLETCHER and son Jack in his band over at Isleworth; extracting the electric mandolin from the axe armoury I set off to play but Gary, if the best you can do for a band is personnel from Family, The Blues Band and Whitesnake I shall have to reconsider helping you out again ... no, seriously this was a real treat and Fletcher's songbook is pretty wondrous, giving us the chance to revisit the aching Wake Me When It's Over and other own compositions.  Bernie!  - where's that new disc you promised me mate?  -  Pete Sargeant

From The Bein Inn's website :  www.beininnmusic.com

Thursday, January 20, 2005 :  Gary Fletcher

From the Blues Band. Tickets £8. Following an impressively memorable debut at The Bein Inn last April, Gary returns to deliver his strong, thought provoking original songs. Whilst his renditions of some of The Blues Band classics that he has written like 'Greenstuff' will doubtless feature and impress, it is his acutely personal songs like 'World Gone Crazy' and the haunting 'Solanki's knife' (both of which deal with the events surrounding the near fatal accident suffered by his son Jack) that grab the attention. His withering appraisal of the role of the papparazi - 'Vulture on your shoulder' casts a lighter more humourous spell but whatever subject matter he deals with, his melodic sense and delightfully measured delivery adds up to an involving, rewarding and intimate evening's entertainment. His willingness to answer questions about the origins of his songs etc creates an almost 'evening with' type atmosphere..... Not to be missed!.'

BLUES IN BRITAIN review November 2004. 

Click on thumbnail to view.  (Then wait a sec or two for the Expand To Regular Size button to appear in the right hand corner in order to read the text).

 

BLUES MATTERS feature (across several pages) Oct/Nov 2004. 

Click on thumbnails to view.  (Then wait a sec or two for the Expand To Regular Size button to appear in the right hand corner in order to read the text).

 

Gary & Rob Townsend are interviewed extensively in Vol 1 Issue 30 of Blues In Britain (www.bluesinbritain.org)

 

Click on thumbnail to see front cover. 

 

Amazon : Solo debut of The Blues Band bass player  28 May 2004

Reviewer: F.B. "radiojam" (Remscheid)

It's 25 years since The Blues Band released their debut The Official Bootleg Album. Now the first solo album from Gary Fletcher, the bass player of The Blues Band, is out. During those 25 years he wrote many songs which he also recorded with the band. The most famous is without doubt Green Stuff. He's also done some first class bass work. In the band he has stood a little in the background. On this solo album he shows what kind of a fantastic musician, guitarist and songwriter he actually is. Some of the songs are already recorded with The Blues Band but don't think you just get old stuff, of course not! He has arranged and interpreted his songs in his own way and also presented many new ones. He moves between the musical genres of Blues, Folk Blues & Singer/Songwriter. A CD you can really enjoy!

Out of the shadows, 1 Aug 2004

Reviewer: A music fan

I agree with the previous reviewer that this is good, and that Gary Fletcher has too often sat back as part of The Blues Band. Basically this CD is a collection of recordings of songs that Gary has offered to 'the committee' (ie the rest of the Band) at various times. Some have made it onto Blues Band albums, others haven't (his oh-so-honest sleeve notes make for interseting reading on this). With the exception of 'Take Me to the Red Line', most of the songs already known to Blues Band audiences (including 'Green Stuff' and 'So Lonely') are appreciably different in their arrangement and vocal style. This latest 'So Lonely' is so superior to the original that it has replaced the 'original' in the band's set - quite rightly. In particular it's worth singling out the excellent 'World Gone Crazy' (written in response to simultaneous personal and global tragedy), to show the breadth of style and content of Gary's songwriting. He blends elements of blues, rock and (and I apologise to those of a sensitive disposition on these matters) even folk in order to cut a dash that is both part of The Blues Band story and yet separate from it. But you can't blame a man for investing in his longer-term future, now can you?

BLUES MATTERS, APRIL/MAY 2004

Dark, Blue & Personal

The Official Gary Fletcher Bootleg Album.  Hypertension HYP 4227

The majority of British blues fans will know Gary Fletcher through his continuing career as bassist and composer with The Blues Band, a veritable UK institution currently celebrating their 25th year together.  This is an interesting album on many fronts.  To begin with Gary's captivating and extensive sleeve notes in the accompanying 20 page booklet open a window on how a highly experienced group of musicians like The Blues Band select their own, home-grown material.  With so many of their own fine R&B compositions to choose from, the band have never relied solely on the well-mined seam of the Chess catalogue.  Gary's own composition, Green Stuff, featured here in a fascinating, pared-down acoustic version, has always been one of the band's show-stoppers.  However in recent years, he has begun to step into the solo limelight with performances of his own work, which equal the blues intensity of anything penned by Messrs Jones, McGuinness and Kelly.  This solo outing opens with an intensely moving World Gone Crazy, a very personal comment written at perhaps the darkest crossroad in Gary's career, when his teenage son, Jack, sustained a terrible accident which almos cost him his life.  On this collection we also get the opportunity, not always as pristine in the heat of live Blues Band shows, to hear Gary's vocals up close and personal.  He has a superb, controlled delivery, never straining beyond his range, and with good diction, so that every word is clearly audible.  Some of the songs here have already passed The Blues Band's writers' committee muster and have appeared on their albums over the years.  Told No Lies is a simmering, moody piece of work with a strong country blues flavour.  So Lonely is a great, soulful R&B outing originally sung by Dave Kelly on The BB's Itchy Feet album.  Others have featured on the Stepping out album, such as The Other Side of the Street.  Throughout the 16 tracks here there is a consistent lyrical quality which demonstrates a lot of creative thought and musicl dedicaiton.  Any young band setting out should listen very, very carefully to one track in particular - Watch My Lips - turned dowm by The Blues Band for their Fat City album ... between the lines it tells you a lot about band management.  Apart from Gary's own fluid acoustic, there are some great musicians on here, notably the slide guitar of Ed Dean, another highly capable left-hander.  Strong, personal, meaningful blues from a writer and peformer who isn't afraid to tell it like it is.  A must for any modern blues fan - and a credit to its creator.

From BLUES IN BRITAIN, Issue 23

THE DAVE KELLY BAND Hooker Blues Club at Wrexham Rugby Club 3/10/03 : .............  A delightful opening set featured an acoustic slot from Gary Fletcher, with the excellent World Gone Crazy – written about a family tragedy – and the well-known Green Stuff - often performed by The Blues Band – being the highlights. 

(To read a review of Gary's earlier album Feud of Love, in the guise of The Relatives, click here)

 

 

 

 

Copyright Gary Fletcher 2010   /    Last updated 2 April 2010