18 May 2022

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The Saddleblasters - Single Review: Aupouri Ange

16 Mar 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

There cannot be many acts who can say they kept The Beatles off the number one slot in their heyday, but when John Grenell aka John Hore released Encore back in 1965, he did just that, outselling Help! and going into the charts straight at number one. Over the years he has had a huge impact on the country scene in New Zealand, even having a number one hit single in the Nineties with his cover of Jim Reeves’ Welcome To Our World. The Saddleblasters are John, along with cowboy singer-songwriter Neil Hersey and music producer Dave Maybee, and they have toured the length and breadth of the country repeatedly, recording songs in different sessions in different studios, many of which were promptly lost to time. However, due to the interest of a new record label they have revisited the old sessions and have uncovered 25 songs recorded mostly between 1989 to 2006, which are going to be released over two albums, with the single Aupouri Angel being the lead number.

There was not a great amount of music played in my house when I was growing up, although as a teenager I used to steal my dad’s jazz albums and teach myself about a very strange genre indeed, but my nan was a huge lover of country music in general, and Jim Reeves in particular. This meant that when I went to her house as a fairly young boy, I was able to play her records, and taught myself about a style of music I never heard anywhere else. As soon as I put this on, I was reminded of those days, not that The Saddleblasters sound like Jim Reeves, but there is something about their style which is so very far removed indeed from alt-country and modern styles. There is no rush, no need to push through the song, just harmony vocals, a solid rhythm section, some guitars, and the use of a harmonica at the right time. This is a song that is ageless, full of dust and experience, nothing fancy, just the guys doing what they have done so many times on stage. It would not surprise me to be told this is a one-take live performance and that the guys sat down afterwards, had a beer, and reflected on a job well done.

There is incredible depth and gravitas with this, no funky dance moves, or slick videos, it is all about musicians telling their story, taking us back in time as if they had actually lived it. It feels raw, it feels real, and very special indeed.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About The Saddleblasters

The Saddleblasters are a cowboy-country outfit consisting of singer John (Hore) Grenell, cowboy singer-songwriter Neil Hersey and music producer Dave Maybee.

The Saddleblasters have performed with American country music supergroup “The Highwaymen” (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings & Kris Kristofferson).

John Grenell of The Saddleblasters had a New Zealand number one hit record in the 90’s with the Jim Reeves song Welcome To Our World. The song was heavily featured nationally in a Toyota vehicle TV advertising campaign, and produced by American superstar country singer Emmylou Harris’s musical director Wayne Goodwin.

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