July 28 sees a new album arrive, it’s “First and Last Stop” by London band Jimmy and the Regals. As a trio, they have discovered interesting ways in which to experiment within the line-up, bolstering their sound as well as maximising the use of their instruments. With the guitar and harmonica taking on multiple roles,using effects pedals and innovative techniques, they come out with exciting and creative music, setting them apart from the more traditional guitar bands on the circuit. You may know them from their 2021 album, “Late Night Chicken.”

The Band:

Joff Watkins: Vocals, Harmonica and Guitar

CJ Williams:  Guitar, Bass and Lap Steel

Sammy Samuels: Drums, Percussion and Backing vocals

Titch Walker: Trumpet

George Simmonds: Trombone

Al Nichols: Tenor Sax

Chris Rand: Tenor Sax

Alan Hughes: Djembe

Tricia Davies Nearne — Backing vocals

“Got to Make a New Flame”  (words and music by CJ Williams)

“I feel a little boogie coming on,” as Freddie Mercury once said. This opener shows some great harmonica talent, and struts its way through the speakers with all that jazz! As we enter the world of Jimmy Regal and the Royals, this is a cool place to begin, and it certainly gives them a big sound, and this is a band with a depth of instruments to make that sound! This is the single from the album. It’s out now and we have the video below. You can download the song here now.

“Ain’t Done Yet”  (words and music by J Watkins and S Samuels)

A great funky number, one to enjoy for sure! The vocals are fast and on the beat, with the whole sax feel in the background giving off this wonderful vibe. I’m so glad I got this album to review, as I’m only on track two, but it is great listening.  This track is like a wonderful bowl of black and green olives, where you find some interesting chilli in a bite!

3. “Can’t Keep From Losing You” ( words and music by CJ Williams)

We get a more bluesy sound from this one, steered by the guitar sound that hits a smooth blues groove. There is also some harmonica that gives it a late night Orleans feel, or maybe I’m on board one of those Southern steamers!. It’s effective, and there is a good use of the backing vocals from Tricia Davies Nearne on this track.

“Do Whatever You Can.” (words and music by CJ Williams)

This is a slower piece, perhaps a slow dance number on that steamer down the Mississippi. It was fine and demonstrates a different feel to the album, it does kick into some mean harmonica halfway through, and the drums from Sammy Samuels I liked on this one.

“Empty Streets” (words and music by J Watkins)

A smoother, rocky number takes us to “Empty Streets.” It takes us into a ghost town with empty streets and people gone. It has some nice guitar riffs, blending a jazz and blues feel. It had a touch of Chris Rea somewhere, I thought!  It should be listened to while sitting in one of those empty, dust blown streets in Western films. 

“You Can’t Run”  (words and music by CJ Williams)

I liked this one. I think if this was the vinyl I was listening to, then this would close the first side. It uses the musical talents in the band and delivers a great rocky/funky piece that would sound great live, I’m sure. 

 “Show Time”  (words and music by CJ Williams)

I am comfortable with the band now! This one slips into the album and provides a mean harmonica again, along with that steady drum percussion that underpins the sound. It is another one that I think would be a blast live, and the sound provides a musical montage they can be proud of.

“The First and Last Stop” (words and music by CJ Williams)

The song of the album title provides some lovely vocal harmonies while keeping the instrumentalization tight. The mix is good, with vocals turned up when needed and the harmonica having prominence when needed. That steady rhythm section again impresses. 

 “Micky Two Suits”  (music by J Watkins)

One of the best on the album, the whole music montage here is damn good, these guys are absolutely in the groove, having fun, and can really play. It reminds me of one of those moments when the group just blows into the sound and lets the music talk. It’s an instrumental and runs at 2.41, but you have to grab this one and admire the music!

 “Bones to Dust” (words and music by J Watkins and S Samuels)

After the instrumental, we have a strong funky number that, for sure, has some serious boogie. It has a certain shimmie around 1.30 that will get the dance floor free, and the sheer joy of those instruments around 2.30 does the business for me.It lyrically bites (see below) and I liked that!

‘You’re bones turned to dust,

A Mercedes with rust,

A friend that went wrong,

A cynical song… (lyrics for “Bones to Dust”)

“Fat Man’s Chicken” (words and music by CJ Williams, J Watkins and S Samuels)

That is a very interesting title, you definitely do not get too many songs called that! It struts its way at the rear of the album with a touch of humour in the lyrics. It is one of those songs to just have a laugh, enjoy a drink, and watch the show. It has plenty of that shuffle boogie in the music and has the band in great form.

“Elmers End Blues” (BONUS TRACK) (music by J Watkin)

Some lonesome and beautiful harmonica with a strummed guitar takes me to the world of those romantic 1950s movies. I dream of Italian holidays, Roman holidays, and fountains! It’s this evocative instrumental that closes the album in great style.

So some final thoughts, this is a classy album that remains full of surprises, you are never entirely sure what will appear next. It brought out my love of the harmonica, but the whole musical ensemble is a treat, and I would love to see them live. It’s a whole lot of fun—a chocolate box of musical treats.

Standout tracks: “Elmers End Blues,” “Got to Make a New Flame,” and “Ain’t Done Yet.”

It is released on the independent label Lunaria Records.

By Stevie Ritson

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