Album cover for Cats Meow by Hard Stairs

What more could you want than a lyrical tail about a fluffy pussy set to the gentle rolling music of country guitar, and softly brushed drums. Well you may be looking for that, but you’ve come to the wrong place!

This follow up from the 2018 Garage Blues Live album had been planned for recording in February, but a virus got into the system somewhere along the way so here we are, on the cusp of November to venture forth. Horston ‘Harry’ Longsail is of course on Guitar and Vocals, Martin Julier beats the crap out of the drums, along with a little caressing with brushes and cracking the odd whip, while adding to the vocal on some tracks. Recording and mastering were left in the very capable hands of Gregory Wilson-Copp at Sound Shack Studios. I could blow the trumpet a little about Greg, but he’s more than able to do that himself.

This is a full on rollicking hard hitting blues attack, expect no mercy. It opens up with the ‘Usual Blues’, and that all I want, all I need. Horston lets rip with vocals and a lovely fuzzed up guitar as Martin punches out the rhythm like  howitzer barrage – short sharp and very awakening. ‘Teeth Down To My Toes’ alludes to Horston’s experiences in the back seat of a car, on the bonnet and everywhere else. That’s quite a woman, delivered with more aggregate than a McAlpine road crew.

Don’t expect any let up on the ‘band saw’ tear up of the guitar and Julien has upped the beat to machine gun fire rate for the rockabilly rant of ‘I Don’t Know’. He even manages to get in the odd word wedged in to this frenetic feast, accelerating hard to its wonderful conclusion – hot enough to burn paint off.

Splattered over the lovely blues rhythm of ‘Sun Goes Down’ is the vocal dexterity of an angry Rottweiler, subtle it ‘ain’t, superb, it is! ‘Sweet Angel’ is as heavy as in Sabbath weight, and it’s all over a woman naturally, can’t live with them, can’t live without them. While the ‘Black Swan Hotel’ is Cheltenham’s own Hotel California, delivered at a floorboard splintering rockabilly rate, but you’ll be needing to book in here for a lock in.

A Longsail solo for ‘Bad Luck Woman’, wonderful lyrics pasted across the dirty but nice guitar picking. A more traditional blues sandwich with tasty humorous filling.

The album closes on what is, a beautifully presented clean guitar, picked out with ‘Spoken Blues’ lyrics. Gorgeous fat guitar licks that you know are going to tear out of their refinement, you won’t be disappointed as Horston adds another solo to close the set. It is exceptionally good just proving there is more to Hard Stairs than a tumble down a flight and falling into a cement mixer.

I love this album, it may not suit the purist blue blood, but it’s an absolute delight, definitely more rock cake and jam than cream scone with preserve, you’re going to know you’ve eaten something.

Oh, and that ‘Fence Post Turtle’, is an American expression for a jumped up politician or maybe business magnate, full of hot air and in this case an orange shell and white hair, wonder who that could be?

By: Graham Munn

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