West London’s finest release live album ahead of their debut next year
Live albums are generally flawed. While trying to recreate the live show experience bands come across stagnant, listless and stationary. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, Tom Waits-Nighthawks at the Diner, 65daysofstatic-Escape from New York, Motörhead-No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith and the Jimi Hendrix-Experience Soundtrack all manage to recreate the power and passion of their live sets in the comfort of your home or headphones. Bootleg albums on the other hand, are another matter entirely. Historically bootlegs were illicit recordings made at gigs covertly. Generally the lo-fi recordings contained audio spill from the audience, not just cheering, but snippets of conversation. However these recordings were dynamic, energetic and powerful. They showed people what they were missing out on.
For their first long player West London’s Du Bellows have released an ‘official’ bootleg titled Transient Electric Volume 1. As with all classic bootlegs, Transient Electric Volume 1 contains the passion and intensity of a Du Bellows live show, but with all the audience participation that goes along with it. Following Silurian Woman, Jack and His Queen continues things in fine form. After a deep bassline courtesy of Rich Leeds, TJ Shipton’s guitar does battle with Jade Williams’ vaporous vocals. Both wrap us in comforting blanket as her tale of love penetrates our psyche all the while underpinned by Dave Watkinson’s clean and effortless drumming. Live favourite Spin, with its sinuous guitar and epic chorus showcasing not only the tightness of the rhythm section, but the power and quality of Williams’ vocals, which the audience clearly approves of.
The real stars of the show however are Dry Flowers, Silurian Woman and Luminaire. Dry Flowers follows a classic British folk tradition, musically, but it’s the lyrics that really show that Du Bellows are made of. Dry Flowers is dripping in longing, regret and ultimately redemption, again in a folk timeless tradition. Silurian Woman follows this lyrical theme, but musically it’s more contemporary. The final minute is possibly where we hear Du Bellows at their best. Locked in the groove and firing on all cylinders. Like the “Judas” shout at Bob Dylan’s Manchester Free Trade Hall gig, the cheer of “Alright!” before they launch into the final salvo sums up how we feel. This is the power of a bootleg. If Dry Flowers and Silurian Woman hint at Du Bellows past, then Luminaire shows their future. Heavier and far more rhythmic than anything they’ve committed to tape before, it essentially smoulders with passion and intent. If this is the quality of their new songs, please sir can I have another!
There are downsides to Transient Electric Volume 1 though. Live favourite Isa Du Bellow’s omission from the album is glairing. While we all totally understand that if you play the same song every night it’ll get boring, but not including it on Transient Electric Volume 1, feels like a missed trick. Having said that, if this is the first in a series of bootlegs let’s hope it gets included in a future volume. Having said that Transient Electric Volume 1 is a great snapshot of a band, finding their form and delivering night after night of exquisite life performances, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters!
Transient Electric Volume 1 is available to download from the link below