"Blues Extensions Vol. 1" Giovanna Music PSP Recordings 2004
From the minute I popped this disc into the CD player, I began bobbing my head and tapping
my feet. What at first appeared to be music for an older generation, turned out to be an album of
a very entertaining blues/jazz combo by very talented musicians.
Hailing from Boston, MA, the Paul Speidel band, lead by Paul Speidel and joined by Brendan
Byrnes and Ed Spargo, has been together for over ten years. Although this music is a combination of
three musicians, what really stuck out the most in my ears was the guitar work by Speidel. It was
quite apparent that he has been playing the guitar for many years, and seems to have come to a point
where he has mastered the art of playing a guitar.
Can you say feeling and energy? Throughout this entire album, all three musicians play with such
feeling and great energy that it just bleeds right through the speakers. So many musicians today have
lost sight of the "music" and simply play as part of a routine. The Paul Speidel Band is one of the few
groups with genuine musicians who honestly love what they are doing and play from their soul. Although
there were no lyrics on this disc, the emotion can be felt simply by listening.
For a debut CD, this one was a big score! Aside from just the talent, the sound was clear and the
mixing was well done. From the first song "The Opener" to the last "D-Bop Blues," this album kept me
hooked from beginning to end. This music can be enjoyed by those from 2 to 92, regardless of
age, race, or location.
Rating: A+-- Laurie Hackney
CD reviews: The Paul Speidel Band, 'Blues Extensions, Vol. 1' (PSP Recordings)
Guitarist Speidel kicks off the aptly titled "The Opener" with workman-like precision, then goes on to
lead his full-bodied sound across some multi-dimensional blues trio territory. His picking is sharpest and
cleanest on the "Hear My Cry/Breakdown" medley; only "Motor Cycle" runs out of steam halfway through.
Taking nothing away from the art of singing, it's a real pleasure to hear an album of instrumentals. Some
icing is added with one acoustic number -- "E-Mail 'E' Rag" -- but this remains a serving of gutsy electric
blues, with longtime band members Brendan Byrnes on drums and Ed Spargo on bass, not only providing
a sturdy foundation, but also egging Speidel on. Things get slinky on the echo-y "Slowburn" and giddy on
Rating: A- -- Ed Symkus
Southbound Beat Magazine
Paul Speidel Band's Self-titled CD
Rocking instrumental blues is what the Paul Speidel Band does with this collection of eight tunes.
The band is just Speidel on guitar, bassist Ed Spargo and drummer Brendan Byrnes. It is the blues
with a steady beat, featuring Speidel seemingly endless collection of guitar riffs, all performed
cleanly with excellent production.
There are elements of Stevie Ray and jazz evident in this collection. The fact that there are no
lyrics actually makes it easy to listen to, particularly since Speidel has such control over his instrument,
there are no jagged edges or distorted guitar lines.
"Hear My Cry/Breakdown" uses a guitar effect, but it is done smoothly, reminding the listener of
Robin Trower. It is long like a Trower song, with unexpected twists and turns. "Slowburn", as its title
might suggest, is a slow blues. Instead of the usual agonized "My baby done me wrong" lyrics, Speidel
expressively uses string bending to make his guitar talk, which is an improvement over the usual way
this type of thing is done. He also shows his mastery of blues guitar playing, as does the riff laden
"Motor Cycle." The latter features tasty walking bass lines. "E-Mail 'E' Rag" is a short change of
pace, using just acoustic guitar. "D Bop Blues" ends the CD with a bop flavored number that is as
much jazz as blues.
This is a great CD for guitar fans, and not just those into blues. -- Dave Howell
CD Title: Blues Extensions, Vol 1
Record Label: PSP Recordings
Musicians: Paul Speidel (guitar), Brendan Byrnes (drums), Ed Spargo (bass)
Review: 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. -- Tim Hamm
Ink 19: Target or Flag
It's an old cliché that the blues is about good people feeling bad. I never really bought that,
but let's run with it anyway. So we've come out of the post election state of catatonia and now we're
feeling down. Blues Extensions Vol.1 by the Paul Speidel Band is a pretty good place to run for some
solace. Speidel is from Massachusetts and knows his way around an electric guitar. The eight tunes on
this self released CD are bright, upbeat instrumental jams. Speidel knows how to work his solos so that
he's working and developing themes. This isn't just empty noodling, but some well thought out blues.
It's the sort of thing you can throw back a few beers with, maybe get up and boogie and leave the bar
feeling a little better than when you came in. -- Bob Pomeroy
Paul Speidel Band
(Blues Extensions, Volume 1)
The Paul Speidel Band is one of those honest, hardworking, journeyman groups who are
(a) totally enamored of the style of music they've chosen to play; (b) completely, blissfully
ignorant of current trends in music; (c) going to keep doing what they're doing until they are
physically unable to do it anymore, whether anyone shows up to listen or not. All of these are
admirable qualities, as a rule, and the group is more than capable of delivering a nicely spicy
rendition of traditional-style blues.
Obviously, your mileage with Blues Extensions will vary proportionately with your love for
electric guitar blues. While there's not much that qualifies as "new" here (sure, Speidel wrote all
of the songs, but to most ears they'll sound like fairly standard blues explorations), there's a
great deal that qualifies as enjoyable. The album's most enjoyable points come when the playing
becomes emotional, as on the powerful "Hear My Cry/Breakdown": here, Speidel's technical
proficiency and his band's solid support chops are at their rawest and most expressive. The
result can't help but be exciting.
For a band that's so clearly focused on live performance, the most that an album can accomplish
is to provide a shadowy hint at what seeing them in the flesh might be like. Blues Extensions
accomplishes that feat, and serves to encourage everyone who hears it to catch these guys in the act.
-- Brett McCallon
Jazz Now -- New Sounds
PAUL SPEIDEL BAND
Blues Extensions Vol. 1
PSP Recordings 1001
Paul Speidel, guitar; Brendan Byrnes, drums; and Ed Spargo, bass
This self-produced CD features a seasoned trio of musicians who have played in the Boston area
for over twelve years. Paul Speidel founded the Sunday Night Blues Jam Sessions which evolved
into a showcase for local and national talent.
The CD consists of a total of eight instrumentals written by Speidel. The first cut is a tune entitled
"The Opener," a lightly rocking blues rendering. Speidel weaves a variety of textures and modes of
expression on "Hear Me Cry/Breakdown." On the tune "Slowburn," Speidel adds accents and flourishes
into the slow grinding melody. The tune "E-Mail "E" Rag" is an imaginative short tune featuring Speidel
lightly slashing the cords. The tune "(It's) A Married Thang" is about as down and dirty as they get on
this CD and it is tastefully rendered.
Paul Speidel demonstrates a bluesworthy guitar style with Jazz influences that is captivating. This CD
is an enjoyable guitar-oriented effort well worth checking out.
-- Dorothy L. Hill
Rockin' World: Root 66 Review: The Paul Speidel Band
I could write this review in six words: This is a great blues album. Frankly, that would be enough
because there is nothing wrong with this album. Paul Speidel plays a mean guitar and is supported by an
excellent rhythm section. Its easy to tell that this band has played together for a while because they play
a tight brand of blues.
There are no vocals on this album. It is a showcase for the musical abilities of all three members of
this band. Most of the songs are pretty straightforward Chicago blues with funky bass lines. The one
exception is E-mail E Rag, which is a country blues song. It is also shorter than the rest of the songs
on the album at two minutes and forty-five seconds.
To be honest, there isnt much more to say about this album. You should check it out
for yourself. If you like guitar and you like the blues, you will love this album.
-- Gary Schwind
Paul Speidel Band - Blue Extensions Volume 1
PSP Recordings - 1001
Veteran Boston instrumental guitarist Paul Speidel's latest CD is primarily blues oriented, with his
indelible stylings lending extra flavor to standard blues riffs and rhythms. Paul travels the blues
countryside, with trips to Texas in the country-fried "Hear My Cry" to the back streets of St. Louis
in "E-mail E Rag" and the Great Smokey Mountains in the homespun "(It's) A Married Thang."
Paul proves once again to be a master of both electric and acoustic guitars.
-- Mark E. Waterbury
The Independent Music Site
Blues Extensions, Vol 1 from The Paul Speidel Band is a collection of 8 instrumental
numbers featuring some fine, fine guitar playing. It opens with (of course) The Opener, a boogie blues
number that's a real toe tapper. The fun and rocky Skritchy-Skratchy is a little reminiscent of some of
the Stevie Ray Vaughan instrumentals. The heavily flanged (or some similar effect) and
Hear My Cry/Breakdown comes across as a little more deliberate as it takes us into Slowburn, a serious
and slow bluesy number. The swinging Motor Cycle carries the CD into the only acoustic tune on the CD,
E-Mail 'E' Rag. (It's) A Married Thang leads us into the last cut on the CD, D-Bop Blues
I found the performance on the CD exemplary but had some issue with the production. The Opener
sounded like audio compression was used like it was one of the instruments, like you were 'supposed'
to hear it. But that's really the only song where it was so obvious. The CD as a whole sounded a little
thin BUT the performance is strong enough to make it worth cranking up the bass a bit to fill out the
sound. Like most CDs, not all the cuts were stellar. A few, like (It's) A Married Thang, seemed to
leave me restless and ready to move on, but there were far more that held my attention and were quite
engaging, like Skritchy-Skratchy, Slowburn, E-Mail 'E' Rag and others.
For boogie, blues, jazz, swing instrumental guitar enthusiasts; I would easily recommend this CD.
And.. I would also say that if you get a chance to see Paul (and crew) do it live, go for it. If Blues
Extensions, Vol 1 is any indication, it would be an amazing show! genre: Instrumental / Rock / Blues
sounds like: Stevie Ray Vaughn -- Chris Lonsberry
From the Band,
we ask everyone a few questions right off... Tell us about your band:
We've been playing on the Boston music scene as a band for over ten years. The first five years of that,
we played tons of bar gigs, and hosted a weekly blues jam, which was really a free-for-all stylistically.
We had people playing lots of straight-up rock 'n' roll, R & B, some jazz, some metal, and acoustic folk
on our breaks!
Then, after three years, we took it to the next level, and turned the event into a Showcase Series,
which continued two more years. We had heavyweight headline guests, and made it more of a show,
with a jam at the end. We brought in Jay Geils, James Montgomery, Duke Robillard, and lots of
other Boston-area greats.
Our drummer, Brendan Byrnes, has been in the band from the start, and played hundreds of nights
with us over the years. Our bassist, Ed Spargo, has been with us the past two and a half years,
and is one of the best blues-rock electric bassists in the New England area. Tell us about this album:
After five years of running the Blues Jam/Showcase Series, we decided to move on and focus on our
own material. I started writing the material at that time, as well as putting most of my time into
booking the band around the area and putting our energies into playing out more widely. The debut CD
is really just the band playing together, which is what we do best. We all grew up listening to
Rock 'n' Roll, jamming Blues, and studying Jazz, so there's a huge improvisational component to this group. What are you doing now?
Putting the album together was a year-long project for me last year, which I took time off booking to do,
since I recorded it and produced it myself. This year, we've got a booking agent for the first time, so
he's lining up our gigs for the fall and winter around the Boston area. What's your favorite web site? not GAJOOB...
www.bluesaudience.com Tell us a secret.
"Peruse" actually means the opposite of the way people use it
>> Check out the cover story on Paul Speidel in the May issue of Metronome Magazine!!! Click here to see cover page. Click here to read interview.