The Big British Blues Band – Cranleigh Arts Centre

November 2008

Alan Golden – Surrey Advertiser

BILLED as The Big British Blues Band, 'last Saturday's line-up at Cranleigh Arts Centre was effectively the Paul Cox Band with knobs on. Sadly, singer Marsha Raven was unwell, so we were denied the chance to see her with Paul Cox in full-on soul duet mode, but, as always with Mr Cox, this was an absolute corker of a gig.

Fronting a superb eightpiece band featuring regulars Mike Summerland on guitar, Richaid Slmmons on keyboards, Al Maclow on bass, Ed Spevock on drums, Nick Payn on sax and Matt Wynch on trumpet, with the addition of The Yardbirds' Alan Glen on harp and guitar and Tim Riggtns on trombone, Cox was on great form. One of the best soul vocalists around, he and his band really know how to create a party atmosphere. There was some stellar self penned tunes together with  some old favorites fetured in the set and much of it was punchy, hard-driving oldschool R & B.

And of course there were some cracking covers like Sonny Thompson's ‘I'm Tore Down’ and Freddie King's “Have You Ever Loved A Woman’. The musical temperature, rising throughout the evening, climaxed with a blistering encore of a medley that started off with ‘Soul Man” before segueing Into ‘Land of 1000 Dances’ and then ‘Satisfaction’.

Exhaustingly brilliant

Alan Golden

Abbeyfest - Blues at the Mills - August 2008 - Blues In Britain

The Paul Cox Band

The Colour House Theatre from 8pm saw The Paul Cox Band bring the festival to a fitting close, with Paul joined by AI McLean on bass and backing vocals, Ed Spevock on drums, Mike Summerlandon guitar and Dave Lennox on keyboards. The band started with thatf ine instrumental "The Stumble" and then Paul entered the proceedings with "That's The Way I Feel", his strong voice to the fore.

Great use of band dynamics were evident on "Middle Of Nowhere" and 'Gonna Paint My Mailbox Blue". Paul then sang that strong Robert Cray song "Forecast Calts For Pain" then, after aspirited version of 'This Love Of Mine", Paul pulled out all the stops on "Pouring Water On A Drowning Man". Following that John Mayall anthem "Walking On Sunset", Paul gave a soulful rendition of Freddie King's "Have You Ever Loved A Woman", finishing the set with John Hiatt's "PaperThin".

The second set also contained some great vocal gems including "Real World", "Dangerous Mood", and "Rolling Back The Years", "Damn Your Eyes" and "634
5789" Bob Brunning then sat in on basson "Before You Accuse Me" and "Tell Me Mama" and Paul finishedt he set with his popular song "Weekend Blues Man".

This fine performance from all the musicians brought a fitting finish to the 2008 Abbeyfest Blues Festival. Roll on 2009!

- Will Edwards - Blues in Britain

Abbeyfest - Blues at the Mills - August 2008 - Blues In Britain

The Paul Cox Trio

Paul Cox followed with an acoustic line up consisting of Mike Summerland on guitar and AI McLean on bass. Paul gave a strong and relaxed performance as only he can with such songs as "Walking On Sunset", "Paint My Mailbox Blue", "This Love Gets Stronger", "In The Middle Of Nowhere", "Nobody's Fault But Mine" "6345789, "Damn Your Eyes" and "Weekend Blues Man".

Once again, Paul finished to ecstatic

- Will Edwards - Blues in Britain

New Crawdaddy Club, Essex - March 2008

THE BLUES PACK - Simply brilliant!

You know I felt that last Thursday at the Club was going to be a bit special and boy was I right! Although, unfortunately, Bill Hurley was not able to appear, we were treated to an absolutely stonking evening with the Blues Pack featuring the great, although very different, voices of Paul Cox, Earl Green and John 'Smiggy' Smyth.

Paul opened proceedings with a couple of stormers which suited his powerfulsoul blues style and quickly whipped up the temperature in the Club and then introduced the completely contrasting Earl Green, a man blessed with a voice which flows over the audience like the finest silken cloth and has a richness that is a joy to hear. After a few numbers he was joined by Paul and then it was John's turn, his wonderful bass/baritone plumbing depths reminiscent of a certain Paul Robeson as well as flying up with the gods. The contrasting vocal styles and material worked superbly particularly so in the duet with Earl & Paul on William Bell's classic '6345789' and Paul and Smiggy on 'I'm in a Dangerous Mood'.

Soul classics like Paul's wonderful take on 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone' alongside his own composition ' Weekend Bluesman' offering a wonderful variety of material. Paul Milligan of the Heaters suggested that the Blues Pack were akin to the 3 Tenors and he was not far wrong for the stage was abuzz with the charisma and power radiated by these three great performers.

Special mention must be made of the superb musicians forming the backing band with Ed Spevok on drums, Rob Millis on keyboards, (shame we did not hear a little bit more of his gorgeous Hammond) Al MacLean on bass and backing vocals and Mike Summerland, superb on guitar. This really was a very special evening and I for one, did not want it to end. If you get a chance to catch these guys, grab it and I am sure you will not be disappointed. Three highly talented artists in their own rights, put them together on one stage and you have a 3 for 1 offer that is impossible to refuse!

Saturday 14th June 2003 - BLUES IN BRITAIN - July 2003 - Lionel Ross.

The headline act of the evening was the Paul Cox Band, supplemented on this occasion by the Stonkin’ Horns. It’s difficult to imagine what must have been going through Paul’s mind as he took to the stage. He gave a thinly veiled hint when he reflected: “You’ve had six great bands – now you’ve got us”. You must’ve been ’avin’ a larff, old son. “That’s The Way I Feel”, Delbert McClinton’s “Shaky Ground” and John Hiatt’s “Paper Thin” give a flavour of the numbers that received the full Paul Cox treatment – his tremendous voice combining power, depth and control in equal measures. Then came the icing on the cake, when Paul was joined first by Nicky Moore on “Ain’t Gonna Be The First To Cry” and then by Marcus Malone on “Take Me To The River”: a fabulous end to a magnificent day.

The only negative note to be sounded is that Ray and Barbara O’Hare still haven’t learned the basic lesson that, if you stage a festival featuring the cream of British blues artistes, it is impossible to maintain the standard the following year. Come to think of it, we told them that last year. Some people never learn, thank goodness.

Friday, 4th October 2002 Warrington R&B Club BLUES IN BRITAIN Lionel Ross.

Arranging a sufficient number of gigs to justify the cost and time of a substantial amount of travelling is all too often the bane of musicians. Consequently, blues fans are routinely denied the pleasure of seeing top performers who are based in distant regions. It was exciting to learn therefore that Paul Cox was due to make a rare visit to the north west of England.

Paul Cox is currently one of the finest singers on the UK blues and soul circuits, his tremendous voice combining impressive power with superb modulation. As a huge bonus, he is also backed by a band of high calibre, widely experienced musicians: Gary Moberley (keyboard), Mike Summerland (guitar), Al Maclow (bass guitar) and Tommy O’Donnell (drums).

The first set at Warrington opened with a fine array of styles: the upbeat rocker “That’s The Way I Feel”, the soulful “Pouring Water”, Delbert McClinton’s “Shaky Ground” and “Mailbox Blues”, a slow shuffle that featured excellent keyboard and guitar solos. We were then treated to some upbeat soul with “Ain’t Nothin’ Doin’” and Frankie Miller’s beautiful ballad “This Love of Mine”, which had been written as a tribute to Otis Redding and which Paul Cox performed superbly as a tribute to the composer. “Real World”, the excellent title track of the band’s latest album, led into a medium-paced shuffle, “Dangerous Mood”, and “Paper Thin” an upbeat rocker penned by the prolific John Hiatt, before the brilliant first set was concluded with the slow blues “Cold, Cold Feeling”.

The second set bounced into life with “Walkin’ On Sunset” and the upbeat “Brickyard Blues”, complete with slide guitar accompaniment. A great version of “Help Me” gave way to “First To Cry”, a slow blues ballad, the delivery of which ably matched the original performance by Bobby Bland. “Rolling Back The years” and “Damn Your Eyes” contrasted nicely with the funky “Heart of Stone”, which was graced with another fine solo by Mike Summerland. The set was brought to a rousing conclusion with a cracking version of Van Morrison’s “Domino”.

Two beautifully contrasted encores added icing to the already delicious cake: “Take Me To The River”, with more magic from Gary Moberley on keys, and a wonderful rendition of “Stormy Monday”. Very appropriately, the audience continued to express their profound appreciation for what had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening of top quality entertainment. And did Paul Cox think that the trip was worth the effort? I have more than a sneaking feeling that he did.

Lionel Ross

April 21st 2001 - PAUL COX BAND - Cranleigh Arts Centre, - Tony Smith (Blueprint)

This promised to be a very `special’ gig, being the new album launch, with a pedigree 8-piece band, and with Paul Cox’s morning prelude playing live for Paul Jones on Jazz FM. And by golly did Paul and his great band deliver!
To an enthralled, near capacity audience, Paul steamed through 26 superb numbers, including most of his excellent new album `Real World’. Paul Cox is one of Britain’s best kept secrets, but if this gig, and the great new album are anything to judge by, his time has come, albeit well overdue. Not only is Paul a great vocalist, with a superb band, but he chooses a great selection of songs. A class act indeed.
He opened appropriately with the Sam & Dave hit `Soul Man’, quickly followed another couple of classics, `Pouring water on a drowning man’ and `Shakey ground’. Then came the first of the songs from the new album, a tasteful ballad `Hold on to your dreams’ (written by keyboard player Gary Moberley), followed by the excellent title track `Real World’, written by the album producer Roger Cotton originally for Peter Green (who he also produces). All those of `mature’ years can identify with the poignant lyrics. The first set continued with a diverse mix of classics and tracks from both the new and previous albums, concluding with `Rollin Back the Years’, co-written by Gary Moberley and Paul, and performed in a distinct New Orleans style.
After a well deserved break, the second set opened with the classic `Dangerous Mood’, followed by my personal favourite track from his previous album, the Etta James hit `Damn Your Eyes’.
As I’ve already said, Paul chooses great material, making it difficult to pick out any particular songs for special mention, but Alain Toussaint’s `Brickyard Blues’, John Mayall’s `Walking on Sunset’, John Hiatt’s `Paper Thin’, and Delbert McClinton’s `That’s the Way I Feel’ were highlights for me, and illustrate the broad range of his repertoire. The set concluded an absolutely brilliant medley of `Take me to the River’, `In with the in-crowd’, `Can I get a Witness’, and `Papa was a Rolling Stone’, followed by Paul’s great version of Van Morrison’s `Domino’.
The audience was elated, giving Paul no option but to come back for an encore. They were not disappointed, as Paul returned on stage to deliver a very moving rendition of Sam Cooke’s `Change is gonna come’, but then got everyone bopping one last time to `Knock on Wood’.

Great singer, great band, great songs, great album, great gig. What more can I say!

Tony Smith

PS Paul Cox gets my nomination for Blueprint UK Male Vocalist for next year!

1st July 2001 - BLUES ON THE FARM @ Pump Bottom Farm, Chichester. - BLUES MATTERS
To finish the weekend off was the Job of The Paul Cox Band. The man fronts a seven-piece outfit with the panache of Tom Jones. They play a good variety of blues such as a bouncy honky tonk 'Rollin back the years', and even some funky blues. Paul and his band wrapped the weekend up in true party style, managing to get most people up dancing. The old classic 'Change is gonna come' was the encore, played with respect and care it rounded things off nicely. This is my forth year at this festival, and I can't wait to make it five. Cheers Jules, you done it again.....

Big Nigel Martin - BLUES MATTERS

July 9th 2000 - BB's Blues Club, London, SW19 - Blueprint - Bill Smith

Paul Cox is a great singer whose range is staggering. He thrives on singing soulful numbers that could be called "Soul Tinged Blues" or "Blues Tinged Soul". Whatever you call it, it is great stuff, and Paul clearly enjoys it, and that enjoyment communicates itself to the audience. In this venture he is more than ably abetted by Gary Moberley on keyboards, Steve James. on the drums, Mike Summerland on Guitar and Al McLean on Bass. All these musicians have a great track record Steve has worked with Ray Davis and the Real Thing, Gary, Mike and Al have worked with Hershey and the 12 bars and Juice on the Loose. What followed given their joint expertise, was no surprise, and what an accomplished performance it was.

Starting with the funky soul number "Standing on Shaky Ground" the band hit the stage running on full power and did not let up until the interval. They fairly ripped through the slow and soulful "Move out to the country" then on to a mesmerising "The Thrill is Gone" both featuring excellent guitar work and keyboards. Paul's vocals shone on 'This Love of Mine" and the Bobby Womack classic "Stop On By". Keb' Mo's " Dangerous Mood" was full of heavy ensemble playing and great guitar riffs. Highlight of the set was, without a doubt "Brickyard Blues", a number that Paul excels at, and the band was on fire as well. Paul finished the set with "Cold Cold Feeling", an atmospheric blues with a great keyboard solo.

The second set started with the bouncy "That's the way I feel", and then the funky "Pouring Water On A Drowning Man" followed by that fine Jimi Hendrix number "Little Wing". We were then treated to an electric rendition of Al Green's "Are You Lonely For Me Baby" followed by a punch "Walking On Sunset". Al Green's "Take Me To The River" segued into "The IN Crowed" then in to "Can I Get A Witness" and then back to the main song, great stuff! The band finished with "Ain't Nothin' Doin'", the title track of their CD, penned by Paul with producer Roger Cotton, and by popular request encored with Ray Charles' "I Believe To My Soul".

Paul Cox is an experienced performer who plays his audience like a piano, and was rightly rewarded with a full house that totally appreciated his remarkable talent to and were thoroughly entertained by a consummate artist. The band was equally as good and a treat to watch. See them if they are down your way.

August 1998 Chiddingfold Club - Surrey Mirror – Alan Golden

" Paul Cox Provided a red hot bill of Soul & and R & B in the depths of the Surrey countryside on the 29th August, Proving that the Chiddingfold Club is the place to go for great music. The highly rated, soul and blues singer Paul Cox and his seven - piece band Soul Intention, provided an exhilarating set. His voce is located somewhere between Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart, Paul has opened for Ray Charles at the Montreaux Festival and his has played with the likes of Eric Clapton, Paul Rogers and Garry Booker. Paul’s new album " Ain’t nothin’ doin’" is being raved about by Paul Jones (Jazz FM & Radio 2), so get on down and boogie to Paul."

September ’98 Blueprint – Bob Snelling

" Paul Cox and his excellent seven piece band, Soul Intention, were first on stage and, from the opening bar of the first number, the audience were hooked! Yes Paul’s brilliant voice is uniquely original, He is the Pavarotti of the British R & B scene. Paul and his band produced classic stuff, including material from their well-received new CD "Ain’t Nothin’ Doin’". I particularly enjoyed the horn section, which included Nick Payn on sax, and Paul’s version of "Damn your eyes " and driving version of "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man"

May 1999 - Jagz - Blueprint - Tony Smith

This was Paul Cox's first appearance at Jagz. As he launched into his opening number, The Temptations' "I Can't Get Next to You" performed Al Green-style, it was obvious that he and the band were out to impress, and that this was going to be a very good night indeed. We certainly weren't disappointed, as Paul and his excellent 6-piece band romped through an eclectic set of blues and soul, covering such diverse sources as Tom Waits, Otis Clay, Allen Toussaint, Taj Mahab John Mayall etc. Of course there was a liberal selection from Paul's excellent current album, including the self penned titleTrack "Ain't Nothin' Doin"', Frankie Miller's "This Love Of Mine", Delbert McClinton's'' The Way I Feel", and my own personal favourite, the Etta James hit "Dam Your Eyes".

Paul is not only a great singer, he also picks great songs, and throughout both sets every one was winner. The momentum was maintained right through to the closing number, Van Morrison's "Domino", end anybody that might have intended an early night' was out of luck nobody could tear themselves away. Following rapturous applause from the modest, but very enthusiastic audience, Paul encored with Otis Redding's "Respect", something that both he and his band had just earned a lot of!

The sheer class of the band should have been of no surprise, considering the excellent pedigrees of its members, who include Gary Mobeley (keys), Nick Payn (sax], and Mark Simpkins (guitar).

Those unfortunate enough to miss this superb gig can take solace in the certainty that Paul Cox's Soul Intention will be back at Jagz again soon. In the mean time, if you get a chance to catch them elsewhere, don't miss it; they are great.
- Tony Smith

January 2000 - The Manor - Bary's Mag - Smiggy's Tips

Smiggy and Beloved went to see Paul Cox's Soul Intention at the Manor recently. Now we're onto Smiggy's favorite subject - real singers. Forget the poor sad sods I've been on about just now. Strap yourselves into your seats, brace yourselves for mach one accelera-tion, take a deep breath, because when Paul Cox puts the vocal pedal to the metal you're riding with the big boys. I'm talking Santa Pod, I'm talking Indi 500, FORMULA ONE.

Paul has twenty plus years in bands. Blues wise its with the John Slaughter Blues Band that he's made his mark, appearing at the Montreux Jazz Festival alongside Eric Clapton and opening for Ray Charles in Ger-many in '92. On the soul front he works with Paul Cox's Soul Intention, a fine band featuring Steve James. on drums, Al Mclean on bass and vocals, Mark Simkins guitar and vocals (a lead singer in his own right) and the splendid Gary Moberly on keyboards. The band's playing history includes work with many famous names. Mention of them all would be an article in itself so you'll just have to take my word for it.

They kicked the night off with the stomping "Can't Get Next To You", straight into "Step on By", left sidestep into "Mailbox Blues" and Keb Mo’s "I'm in a Dangerous Mood". There was a great version of Smiggy's personal favorite all time singer/songwriter Frankie Miller's "Brickyard Blues". Anybody who dares to follow in Uncle Frankie's foot-steps gets my vote for courage right away, and it must be said that Paul's singing of this num-ber makes him today's heir to the Miller leg-end. (More of Frankie Miller at a later date). The band closed the first set with, a rendition of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come", that was beautifully arranged, complete with tight harmonies and lead singing, that made Smiggy (singer as he tries to be) curl his tiny toes, with a mixture of joy and low jealous professional envy.

I have several contracts extant with hard-working Mafioso, all sadly yet to be ful-filled. If anyone can bring me the head of Mr. Cox, Smiggy and many other twilight vocalists will he eternally grateful. Talent of this stature is hard to put up with when it's not your own.

Second set bring us "The Way I feel" from Paul's recent solo CD (as was "Damn your Eyes"). "Walkin' on Sunset" was an essay back in slaughterland as was Smiggy's re-quested number, Ray Charles "I Believe to my Soul". Soul brother Delbert Mclinton's "Shakey Ground" was solid rock and good old "Take Me to the River" (every soul hand's time honored family remedy for coughs, ailments and envy) was solid gold. Great numbers came thick and fast and when the set finished, the Manor (very satisfyingly attended considering this was the band's first gig here) would not let them go without encores. No floccinaucini-hipilification here!

As the happy audience left and Smiggy and chums were making their way to the door a crawling figure could just be discerned in the shadows weaving its way through the disman-tled band gear. It's shoulders hunched in eager anticipation, the creature sidled up to the hand, its soft work-shy hands kneading convulsively. The Sibbett (for it is he) oiled his way into the centre of the group. At first the feeble tugging at their sleeves and at the knees of their trousers went unnoticed by the band as they discussed the gig but at last (and I swear this is God's truth) as the Sibbett fell to huffing the shoes of the keyboard player, one of them looked down. "Great Gig Boys" whispered The Sibbett, his eager breaths suddenly loud in the silence of the darkened hostelry "Here's the twelve pounds for the audition. Do us another night here and I'll make it worth your while". Paul Cox's Soul Intention plays the Manor again on SUN 30th APRIL.DON'T MISS IT

September 26th 2000 - Farnham Malting - Blues Festival - Fran Leslie

Back in the Malt Room, Paul Cox and his excellent band played. "Standing on Shaky Ground" had a short bass featuring Al McLean, the horn parts being covered by Gary Moberley on the keyboards, who did very well even if the overall effect was a little synthetic. A vocal highlight was Miller and Trower's 'This Love of Mine" The absence of horns was made up for by Mark Simpkins' ice-hot guitar licks on "gonna Move To The Country". Paul should have been higher on the bill, not that the main hall's sound would of done him any favours. They put on an excellent show.

16th December 2000 - An Average Night in Wingrave - Blueprint - Jack Kidd

For the traditional pre Xmas event the good folk of Wingrave were extremely fortunate this year to experience the full might of Paul Cox and his Band (Soul Intention). Anyone regularly booking bands and taking their lead from features and articles in this fine magazine ought not to dwell too much on the word soul, as this superb rhythm & blues band, covered quite a wide spectrum of genres, all with great respect and classy interpretation. Not only has Paul one of the strongest voices in this country, but he demonstrates great taste with his musical selections (i.e. Sam Cooke, Delbert, McClinton, Al Green, John Mayall, Frankie Miller, Bobby Womack, John Hiatt were just a small selection of the composers used). Augment this skill and talent with a powerful band of excellent musicians (including Gary Moberley on keyboards, Nick Payne on sax and guest guitarist - the wonderfully inventive Mike Summerland) then you have a unique blend of ingredients to ensure any live gig goes with a bang. As has been the trend at recent gigs in Wingrave, the crowd was the only disappointing aspect of the evening, making it very hard for the promoters to make ends meet. However, those who did attend went home exceedingly well pleased following a scintillating blend of contemporary rhythm & blues, laced with some very potent soul. Unlike many other live performers on the circuit Paul Cox can actually sing, he can hold a note and really deliver the goods to captivate any audience. Years as the vocalist with John Slaughter Blues Band have honed his talents perfectly. A new CD is in the making and planned for an April launch. Do yourself a favour and check Paul and his band out. If you are a booker - book him. You will not be disappointed

22nd June 2002 - Paul Cox Band with Marsha Raven
- Cranleigh Arts Centre From Blues in Britain Vol. 1 Issue. 8 – July 2002-07-27

Blues and Soul Mix them well and you have a terrific menu for a night out. Serve in a smallish. Comfortable, air-conditioned venue with good acoustics over two and a half hours and Saturday nights don't get much better than this!

The diminutive Marsha Raven joined the band, minus there Leader, and launched into a funky version of "Tore Down", which got the toes tapping immediately. She may be short, but boy, what a voice Marsha has a terrific range and uses it to great effect, whether belting out some "Down Home Blues", or seducing you through "Steamy Windows" That last song reinforced the comparison with Tina Turner. but this was also a chance for Marsha to do her own thing and it was wonderful.

"Overnight sensation" is no way to describe Marsha and, with her little black dress. There wasn't a bloke in the place who wouldn't have accepted her offer during "Rock Me Baby", a slower stomper that had everybody moving. Her set comprised mostly standards, but sung in her own inimitable way, aptly illustrated on "Boom Boom", a fitting tribute to the late John Lee, it culminated in a rocking version of "Crossroads", with excellent backing from Mike Summerland and Steve Dixon on guitar and drums respectively, leaving the audience positively breathless. It was as though she and the band played together all the time, Paul Cox joined her for the Soul staple "Private Number" to take us to the break. Although I'm convinced the crowd weren't thinking about replenishing their glasses at all.

The second set featured Paul on vocals and it was clear from the outset the band has been together for the best part of four years. They got off to a rocking start with "That's The Way I Feel", increased the soul content with "Pouring Water On A Drowning Man", before getting the whole place jumping for "Standing On Shaky Ground".

A good selection of numbers were taken from Paul's two CDs, including the slower "Real World" and "Damn Your Eyes", featuring lovely keyboard playing by Gary Moberley plus storming versions of "Paper Thin", "Rollin' Back The Years" and, one of my all time favourites ever, since I heard it on the Blueprint CD compilation. "Ain't Nothin' Doin'. That song still inspires me every time I hear it!

John MayaIl's "Walking On Sunset" upped the tempo, followed by full audience participation on the Sam and Dave classic "Hold On, I'm Coming" Bass player Al Maclean also added vocals to his solid rhythm backing on J B Lenoir's "Mama Talk To Your Daughter".

Marsha then returned to duet with Paul for "Your Friends Are Tearing Us Apart" and a belting version of Bob Seger's "Fire Down Below". With their great blues / soul voices and on stage personalities. Marsha and Paul are made for each other. On their own, they're great, but together... just make sure you go and see them if you get the chance!

Darryl Parsons - Blues in Britain


SMMIGGYS TIPS – "Barry’s Mag" January 2002

Hello Cherubs. Enjoy your Christmas? Lots of presents and pud? Good I'm actually writing this a few weeks before the great day- not a decoration up yet, no tree, gifts still to buy, so we have the unheard of situation whereby the Smigs column is being written, not only on time, but……..EARLY!

Why? Howcanthisbe I hear you cry. Well, my voles, I write in the white heat of in-spiration, the glow of ever so triffic excitement. As you'll recall in last month’s mag, I was bemoaning the approaching retirement of the beloved Nicky Moore. I wailed and gnashed my teeth, I rent my garments. Bereft. But, if the king is dead, long live the king. Problem is, who is go-ing to presume the crown: who is going to take over the baton, carry the torch forward into a future of mighty music and mixed metaphor? Let me make a prediction you've listened to my pontificating, my pompous pronouncements and contentious opinions for quite a while now. You know me as a crusty ol' git, not given to high praise. Of late, I have been espe-cially grumpy and hard to please. For a long time I have been unable to enthuse unreservedly, and I thank you for bearing with me through this bleak teatime of the soul. But now "a change is gonna come I've been refreshed, my music molecules have been disassembled, burnished, put back together, I walk with a lighter step. The occasion of this Christmas Carol-like conversation to a happier, more affordable Smigs-simply last nights gig. In the excel-lent company of wife - the lovely Bagford, Heather and Brian Hill and my little brother, Wobert, I went to Botley Hill Farm (30th November 2001) to see the man who, with the retirement of The Bespectacled One is now the undisputed King of the Hill. I speak of the silver tongued Old Stager of Redhill, the Stocky Fair One, yes... PAUL COX.

Backed by Steve James. on drums, Al Mclean on bass, Mike Summerland lead guitar and standing in for Gary Moberley on keyboards Johnny Henderson Paul took the discerning punters of Botley Farm, turned them upside down, shook the applause out of them, stood them back on their feet, joked them, danced them, and sang them into a state of cheerful and exhausted con-tent. Paul’s winning ingredient is the distinctiveness of his voice. He has great phrasing and control, power and range, but mainly he has a sound that allows you to identify him from the briefest snatch of a song-a timbre that's a mixture of whisky, honey and gravel. Unmistakable. This is a quality that can't be taught: it's pure bloody luck, and if you've been gifted with a magic vocal sound, then you're very lucky. And unusual. Ally this with the kind of good taste that includes numbers by Delbert Mclinton, Sam Cooke, Frankie Miller, Bobby Bland and other giants and you're on a winner. Remember, when it comes to blowing off your sox, Cox rox.

To the band.. Depping on keyboards, Otis Grande's keyboard man, Johnny Henderson was relaxed funky, and soulful (not easy when you're walking the edge. Al was equally splendid on bass and backing vocals, Steve the drum was very good and his nods winks and smiles to the band spoke of a man enjoying being very good.

Now comes the other special reason then plays something that says a lot about for el Smigs enjoyment of the his ego and nothing about the song. How night. For quite a while I have many guitarists see the song as a whole, been a jaded bunny when it comes to lead as opposed to intro-boring bit-MY guitarists (witness the 'Worlds Worst SOLO-the other boring bit-end. Mike Guitarist" debate). I was beginning think that I'm getting OLD.

The runs, licks, bends, and howls of the leadsman And he actually turns down after his solo. in full cry have not shaken my weary bones as in days of yore. It's like a kinda boring conversation: lots of sound and fury at the end of it all, you think "What was all that about"? You've been shouted at, harangued and generally belabored, treated to fireworks and gymnastic, a triple scotch and a twenty one-gun salute and it's all somehow terribly dreary. And you don't know whether to blame him, yourself, the warm beer or the moon in conjunction with Saturn.

Not so with Mike Summerland, He's quiet. looking fella, wee hint of menace in the features, but the sort of bloke who might be a successful professional hit man, who might 'know a geezer that knows a geezer' (He's probably staunch Rotary club member, bit I'm trying to be entertaining here) anyway, give him a solo and his true identity is revealed: a guitarist that plays straight from the soul.

No flash-no look at me technique, just a spare brilliance that gives every note a reason and a meaning. Not to say that he can't impress with power-house playing, he's got the stuff for that: it's just that you don't have to listen to playing where You continually hear Jack Nicholson as The Joker saying "Wait'll they get a load-on ME" or Pyrotechnic Man who waits for his solo with his bum wiggling like a cat about to pounce and then plays something that says a lot about his ego and nothing about the song.

How many guitarists see the song as a hole, as opposed to an intro – boring bit – MY SOLO – the other boring bit – the end. Mike Summerland does. My vote for best guitarist on the live scene at the moment. He actually turns down after his solo. Weird, eh?

So, there you are, just when I was despairing, feeling sensation fading in my extremities up pops The Paul Cox band, like a big friendly Saint Bernard with a barrel of rum. Bless ‘em.