A little background (from Mick)..
I think you could call "Steppin' Out" an eclectic mix.. in fact there are not many styles of blues, blues rock, country rock that are not in there somewhere. but what the hell.... to me it's all blues.
My friend Dangerous Dave Newman came down to Rockfold Studio to add some fine harp playing and cook an excellent barbecue - many thanks for your contribution Dave, heard on three tracks on the album.
I've said before that making music is my hobby and my therapy - definitely keeps me sane or insane whichever might apply best. I had a lot of fun making this album as well as tearing my hair out when things got frustrating. I hope you enjoy the music.
Self explanatory lyric with the Epiphone Sheraton playing the opening riff through my old Watkins 6 watt amp. Lead on the Les Paul Junior - that distinctive P90 bridge pickup.
Honky Tonk Blues
Not sure why I like Hank Williams so much. Probably the same reason others like him - the total honesty and conviction in his singing. I always thought of him as a great white bluesman as well as the king of country. So I'm not trying to be Hank here, despite the southern drawl in the vocals. (You can't sing this song in an English accent.. although my pronunciation of "route" is more Surrey than Tennessee). Anyway I felt that I could add something in rocking the track up in my own way.. the Les Paul Junior once again doing the business. I do like this track - it is definitely me.
Inspired by the old Josh White song "One Meat Ball".. although a completely original song, as far as I'm aware. Django meets Fats Waller in the 21st Century. The phrase "nothingburger" although associated with current US politics, has actually been around for a while - seemed like an appropriate update. This, as you will notice, is an instrumental, but there are lyrics, which I haven't actually written yet. You can make up your own and sing along if you wish.
Spend Your Money
Written during that long hot spell we had here in England..(yes really). Dust on the car windscreen and a lazy feel. What you gonna do? I'll spend your money - you spend mine.
Big Town Playboy
Again, not sure why I like this song. But it tells a story and I like the way the lyrics fall into place. Written by pianist Johnny Jones and made famous by Eddie Taylor. Dave plays some great harp through his little Supro amp, and the track boogies along.
I like a sip of whisky, me. Usually early in the evening to smooth the transition from day to evening. As Charlie Drake put it in his autobiography, it takes the rough edges off the day. And I like a sip before I go on stage, to warm the vocal chords and loosen the inhibitions.
However, I'm well aware that it can be the Devil's brew. If it takes a hold you're lost. A few times when I've played gigs with musicians who don't know me that well, I've seen them recoil when I pour myself a wee dram in the dressing room. And I do understand - many musicians of a certain age have been to the edge with alcohol, and only survive now through total abstinence. Hence the line "all around the room, a sharp intake of breath". But for myself, I'll continue to warm the cockles as and when required.
This track has a kind of soul feel. I was trying to go for that old Al Green / Willie Mitchell Band thing - that nice solid chunky beat, crossed with a little early Taj Mahal. Some tasty harp work from Dave. The track sounds a bit over-recorded to me, which adds to the vinyl feel.
Can't Help Myself
I could tell you a very long story about how this track evolved through two earlier versions. Suffice to say here it is.. a nice fat lead guitar and a rocking drum track. Can't help myself!
Watch Your Step
This was going to be for the next album, but once I got stuck in to it I got over excited and decided I had to get it out there NOW! So here it is, Bobby Parker's classic, rocked up and set to what is, technically, a Salsa rhythm. Totally over the top in places, it won't be to everyone's taste. My advice - dive in and enjoy.
No Way Back
Another tortuous songwriting process. It started off as a kind of 70s psychedelic thing. At one point I had serious doubts about the song, until I stripped away half the lyrics and decided to hum part of the tune. Suddenly the whole mood of the track changed and the lead guitar part just fell into place. Job done. I don't know what this track is, but I like it.
I think of this as a palate cleanser after the heaviness of No Way Back. Based on a couple of tunes I wrote back in my twenties which I could never do anything with, but which lodged in the back of my mind for all these years. An odd mix of acoustic and electric instruments and justification of my purchase of a real hi-hat - Paiste cymbals, far too good for a non drummer. The style of this track I would describe as, pretty much impossible to say.
Tryin' To Get To You
Another great white bluesman - Elvis Presley. I bought a double CD of early Elvis stuff to entertain me on a holiday a while back, and this song leapt out. I must have known it back in the day, but I'd forgotten all about it. Elvis's version is, I think, flawed and marred by too many stops and starts and a dodgy effect on the guitar, but the song yearned for a straight ahead rocking arrangement. My friend Bill from Killing Floor likes this, so it must be good.
Right and Wrong
Dangerous Dave joins me on a rockin' shuffle which evolved from an old Don Nix song. Les Paul Junior on the lead, Dave rockin' the blues through the Supro.
20th Century Man
Memories of meeting up with my old friends Lou and Rod before they rocked the Hammersmith Odeon or the Rainbow with Rory. A pint of Ramrod and Special in the pub round the corner was the order of the day - great times never to be repeated.