Album Review: Seasick Steve, You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

By Graham Reid

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Album cover for You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks. Photo / Supplied

Seasick Steve - who makes his own guitars, counted Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain as friends and had Grinderman, Ruby Turner and K.T. Tunstall on his raw 2008 album Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most of It Left - has been a hobo, busker and record producer in his time, and his blues-infused albums reflect stories of a hard life.

He got his break on a 2006 Jools Holland show and has won many awards since, but still sounds like he's crawled from a Mississippi swamp here on songs like the Muddy Waters-influenced Burnin' Up.

Close in spirit to characters like T-Model Ford, the late R.L. Burnside and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Steve can shift from folk-blues (Treasures with banjo and fiddle, Whiskey Ballad) to acoustic funk (Have Mercy on the Lonely) and explosive electric playing with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones on bass (the throbbing title track Back in the Doghouse).

There are some songs where he repeats a style (What A Way to Go and Party don't add much other than more razor-wire playing) and the weaker material doubtless brushes up menacing when delivered live.

The hidden track is a one-listen, 12-minute rambling story about hitching around in 1967 which tells you he should stick to singing them raw 'n' rowdy blues.

Stars: 3.5/5
Verdict: The title says it all about this 70-year old who has walked the hard roads
Buy You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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