Don’t know where Bill came from, but I hope he sticks around. A short bio I received with the disc indicates he’s been around playing since the ’70s, mostly as a sideman who’s backed up all sorts of folks. And bands he’s played in have opened for all the usual suspects. With this record, hopefully he can get some of those headlining gigs himself.
Thomas is a blues guitarist in the traditional Albert King style, but things get mixed in like Clapton’s early blues work, and maybe even a little SRV, although that might be stretching it a little. Suffice it to say, he’s his own man, with a style that allows for soulful bending and note placement that, on occasion, breaks into a flurry of notes that blows the roof off.
Thomas’ main style is funky, blues-based rock. His tone is fat, but he doesn’t always sustain the notes the way someone with that sort of tone might. The delivery can be very staccato, adding a nice sense of urgency to many of his solos. That style also fits beautifully with the taut funk arrangements of tunes on the record, like the title cut. There’s also some pop/rock mixed in on cuts like “Vero,” which, to say the least, has a very unique hook. For some Hendrixan chordal work, check out “Show Me All The Love.” And, one cut – “Keep It” – even has a bit of an island feel.
Through it all, Thomas’ playing shines. And he has a unique voice, too. It’s not your normal, run-of-the-mill/gritty/been-around-forever bluesman voice. It’s more of a reedy tenor that packs the same urgency as much of his playing. It’s pleading, but at the same time cool and calm.
If you’re a blues fan, and you like to find stuff that isn’t straight-down-the-road traditional, you might like this. The label is based in England, so visit bluesarchive.com. It’s definitely worth a look.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.