I have to be honest and say that until I was sent this album to review, I’d only ever heard two songs by the Spin Doctors – their two massive hits from the early ’90s ‘Two princes’ and ‘Little miss can’t be wrong’, both from the album ‘Pocket full of Kryptonite’. So that meant I wasn’t really sure what to expect, only knowing a couple of songs from 20 years ago, but I certainly wasn’t expecting what I heard when I put the CD in the player and hit play. What Spin Doctors have made with this album is a Blues album, plain and simple. No pop influences or anything that’s likely to get near the singles charts, just some very impressive Blues.
Some of the songs on the album were written for the album, while others such as ‘So bad’ date back over 20 years to the early days of the band. Despite that they all feel like they belong together on the album. The album was recorded in just three days – originally the recordings were just going to be demos before the proper recording but the band were so happy with the results they’ve simply kept the demo recordings and released them as the album. That may sound like a bold move but it has clearly paid off as the songs sound fantastic. The sound is a raw stripped back sound that just suits the Blues songs perfectly.
There’s a mix of songs on here. There are some laid back blues songs that are perfect for chilling out to – ‘Scotch and water blues’ is a good example of this, and there are also some faster, more upbeat songs – title track ‘If the river was whiskey’ being an example of this. The laid back sounding vocals are going to be familiar to people who only know the ‘Pocket full of Kryptonite’ era songs, and they work so well with these blues songs – ‘Some other man’ is the track where at times you really hear the ‘Two princes’ sounding vocals. The guitar work is excellent and ‘Scotch and water blues’ contains some of my favourite guitar on the album.
It’s not often an album totally changes what you thought about a band, but with this album going back to the bands very early Blues sound, Spin Doctors have achieved just that. If you’re a fan of the Blues then forget about ‘Two princes’ and give the band a fresh listen as this album is proper blues music and is likely to earn the band a whole host of new fans from the Blues loving community.
‘If the river was whiskey’ will be released in the UK on 6th May 2013 (19th April in Germany and 30th April in the US).
1. Some other man instead
2. If the river was whiskey
3. Sweetest portion
4. Traction blues
5. Scotch and water blues
6. About a train
7. The drop
8. Ben’s looking out the window blues
9. So bad
10. What my love?