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John The Conqueror: John The Conqueror

Reviewed By: Dave Goodwin
Label: Alive Naturalsound
Format: CD

Deep within this well-packaged CD, there is a plethora of great tunes. But that is not all. There is a story here too.

John the Conqueror's members are cousins Pierre Moore (vocals and guitar), Michael Gardner (drums) and Ryan Lynn (bass). The cousins have been playing and making music together since they were at college in Oxford, Mississippi, which holds untold stories in itself, the like of which we are never likely to hear. But the story for me here, and one that conjures up all kinds of musicial romanticism is that of Pierre Moore. He was taught to play the guitar as a very young teen by a homeless man that used to both live his life and to sleep in the back room of an old car repair shop. Now I have to tell you that I have sat for hours listening to this breathtaking first debut from the band, and drifting off into that repair shop like an episode from ‘Quantum Leap’ to find a young boy sat in the Mississippi heat being slowly, painstakingly but surely taught the fine art of the guitar by some (maybe old, that’s the route I am going down anyway) vagrant that he'd befriended by chance in a garage on a long, hot, dusty road.

That kind of story makes the hairs on your arms stand up on end, and is in short the crux of this album. It is honest and simple. But don’t let that put you off if you are not keen on music that is honest and simple. They have been described as being “raw deep blues with funk, soul, punk and scuzzed up rock and roll'. And that is a brilliant description for it. It is exactly that. The fact, however, that not only Pierre has his story to tell. but the others do too stands testament to the passionate depth within the album.

It begins with what sounds like the three of them just jamming and then breaks into full throttle blues on one of the album’s highs, 'I Just Wanna', It continues with the rock blues until you are hit with the slow blues guitar intro to the infectious 'Lucille', which is almost five minutes of down and dirty magnitude. Grab the time to give 'Time to Go' the full monty. You won’t be disappointed. With tinges of 60's Atlantic soul hidden inside and an unexpected blast of guitar a minute in, it is top drawer.

'Passing Time' is also a must .Only one and a half minutes in length, it is a slab of instrumental blues guitar playing at its best, and ends in simple handclaps before drifting into the classic rock blues of '3 More'.

I was asked a short while ago for my top ten albums of the year. This one is in there somewhere. And let me tell you, it has been a good year for music!
By the way, John the Conqueror, also known as High John the Conqueror, John de Conquer, and many other folk variants, is a folk hero from African-American folklore.

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