Mick Pini and Audio 54 – Way Ahead
Mick Pini and Audio 54 – Way Ahead
Label: House of Happiness Records
Release date: March 22, 2023
‘Way Ahead is a groundbreaking blend of 21st century blues forged by Mick Pini, the German based British blues guitarist and contemporary producer Craig Marshall (aka Audio54)
As Craig Marshall (aka Audio 54) explains: “It’s a chronicle of what we have been doing for the last 3 years or so.”
Both Mick and Craig originally hail from Leicester and it was a relationship that clicked from the start, when Craig phoned Mick and asked him to put a guitar part down on the original version of ‘Papa Voodoo’ (re-recorded here).
Mick explains: “I hadn’t played a show in 2 years because of covid, so I was busy working in my studio. Craig suggested a new way to work within the blues framework which basically took me out of my comfort zone, and I thought why try something new?”
Craig adds: “It seemed that our respective talents complimented each other. Mick’s unrelenting ‘organic’ approach was in line with my own belief in the ‘magic of the moment’.
My use of digital recording technology – new sounds and loops – was enhanced by Mick’s musical spontaneity.”
As Mick explains: “Sometimes Craig would come with an interesting idea and I would ask him to leave enough space to for a guitar part, or perhaps some wah-wah depending on the feel of the song.”
Craig: “When we gelled and it became clear to me that my job as producer, writer, collaborator and musician was to enhance Mick’s unique flair and talent as a blues performer. Mick is a true blues artist, not just in his music, but in the way he lives his life and how he relates to his fellow human beings. He’s a true artist.”
‘Way Ahead ‘is released in the slipstream of the well received ‘Backtrack’ compilation and two recently released EP’s ‘Pastoral’ and ‘Are you Blind’.
Mick’s track notes:
“Craig provided the framework for the album and I saw it as my job to find a groove, and give it some feel.”
01) Head North – This is Craig’s Bootsy Collins number, and it’s got some nice bass on it and all the elements that Craig brings to a session. I just laid the guitar on to it.
02) Last Night – was sparked by Pete Feenstra’s lyrics which really spoke to me.
03) Light Don’t Shine – this was very much a Craig number, he asked me for a kind of vocal rap, and I thought the high-end harp and spacey guitar would fit the atmospherics and horns.
04) Make Me Believe -I really liked it when I heard it, and just tried to do something different with my guitar tone. I was thinking of a crossover between a Deodato groove with Van Morrison’s former guitarist John Platania.
05) Moving On – My idea was to emulate RL Burnside with a steady one chord rhythm and the ‘leaving town’ theme.
I transposed the idea to a train-time thing, with a vocal people have told me sounds a bit like Beefheart. Craig’s atmospheric production really nails the vibe of the piece.
06) New Blues – Again we were looking for something funky and I thought of using the Audio 54 beats within a sort of Crusaders kind of set up.
07) Nowadays – Craig asked for funky guitar on it. I love the energy of this track, the way it builds up, and the horn break of course.
08) Papa Voodoo – this is a reworking of the track that stated our collaboration. It was a step into the unknown for me at the time, but now its second nature.
09) Problems – I aimed for a percussive feel to underpin the piece and was thinking of Jerry Garcia with John Khan and some Merle Saunders style keyboards.
10) Shadows – Craig already had the piece which needed a noirish vocal; I also added few Peter Green inflections to bring variety.
11) Time After Time – Craig did the music and I came up with the words and then used a Telecaster for the guitar part. There’s an interesting vocal styling near the end of that track.
12) Trouble – The title lent itself to the vibe of the song, the feeling out on the street. It’s got an intensity which led me to shout “fire” just before the solo”. That’s how it felt.