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The Jones Bugle
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Ian Anderson's rather "over the top" review of Wizz's CD "Huldenberg Blues".

"Wizz Jones really is extraordinary. Along with Davey Graham he was one of the pioneering English acoustic guitar wizards of the 1960s, influencing that whole Jansch/ Renbourn/ Carthy generation and beyond (yes, people like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Rod Stewart too, by all accounts). By the end of that decade he’d crystallised his unmistakeable style – fingerpicking powered by a sturdy, bouncing Big Bill Broonzy thumb or a driving flatpicking inspired at the knees of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott & Derroll Adams in the late 1950s. And the remarkable thing is that he’s still playing with as much fire these days at the age of 72, his youthful voice on this album almost unchanged from four or five decades ago. If he’d made this album at any point in the last 40-plus years it would have sounded just as good. I can’t think of anybody else remotely like him.

Recorded live at a private gathering in Huldenberg, Brussels in 2006 (actually the audio from a video made of the evening, though the sparkling, intimate sound quality wouldn’t tell you that), this is almost the perfect introduction for newcomers to the legendary him, but will be treasured by long-term fans too. Those there on the night were clearly having an appreciative ball – at one point there’s the unmistakeable sound of a Dave Evans heckle!

As the album title hints, it’s got a focus on his Anglicised blues (Broonzy’s Hey Hey and Blind Lemon’s Shuckin’ Sugar, Mississippi John Hurt’s Got The Blues Can’t Be Satisfied, Blind Willie Johnson’s Keep Your Lamp Trimmed & Burning, Blind Boy Fuller’s Corinne – as heard on this
issue's fRoots 38 Album). But it also has a good sampling of his characterful reworkings of songs by others like Ewan MacColl, his ‘personal songwriter’ Alan Tunbridge (National Seven, See How The Time Is Flying and the criminally ignored Massacre At Beziers which ought to be much more widely taken up) and just one of his own, the moving Burma Star about his dad. Wizz writes rarely, but when he does they’re invariably killers.

Why Wizz Jones isn’t an international folk hero and recipient of all the Lifetime Achievement Awards going is almost impossible to fathom, other than because of his modest self-effacing nature. Word from the powers that be at Radio 2 is that he won’t ever get one because he isn’t a household name. Well, play the arse off this record and make him one then – on this form, there’s no excuse at all. Let’s hear it for old four-eyes!"

Ian Anderson - fRoots No.38. December 2011.

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Hector's Hause    webmaster@wizzjones.com