Review PBZ BAND Album – Blues Blast Magazine USA

„The pandemic was hard on musicians and commoners alike around the world, and guitarist Paddy Boy Zimmermann – a veteran session player and teacher in Mönchengladbach, Germany – was eager to keep up his chops and jam. He called two friends, and together they produced sounds they liked so much and had so much fun together that this blues rock ensemble took shape and tracks for this debut album took form.

A studio musician and artist for decades, Zimmermann regularly works in with German harp virtuoso and award winner Chris Kramer when not playing in the duo Rob Collins & Paddy Boy. He’s joined here by bassist Rupi Schwartzberger, whose credits include work with the Weather Girls and Black Fröös, one of the seminal groups in the national folk scene, and Jan Wienstroer, the drummer for songwriter Wolf Maahn and TV’s Harald Schmidt Show Band on what’s Germany’s equivalent to the David Letterman Show.

Already familiar with one another after having frequently gigged together, the trio formed an immediate bond and Zimmermann, whose heroes include Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher and the Rolling Stones, started writing originals – something he hadn’t done for 15 years.

The material here was recorded in different styles within the blues-rock spectrum in 2022 and 2023 in sessions at multiple locations, including Paddy’s home studio. It was produced by Zimmermann and mixed by Martin Meinschäfer (Layla Zoe, Kai Strauss) at Megaphon Studios in Arnsburg.

The opener, the ballad “From Your Blood,” kicks off in a whisper before exploding in intensity before modulating to allow Zimmermann space to launch into introspective lyrics, something that transpires throughout the song. He wonders whether he’s misunderstood or simply acting awkwardly because he’s being blamed for things he can’t control. “Brick Wall Boogie,” meanwhile, drives steadily throughout as it complains about the lack of communication in a relationship.

A brief guitar solo opens “Spaghetti in the Night,” which immediately evolves into a medium-slow shuffle with six-string accents and flourishes as it yearns for a decent meal after a hard day’s labor and an impossible trip back home. The band shifts to acoustic for “Alive Shuffle,” the celebration of surviving in troubled times, before the balls-to-the-walls rocker, “Scrambled Eggs,” describes waking up to an aching back and recalling the suggestion of a lady that eggs would relieve his pain – something that was confirmed by a doctor that morning.

The plaintive acoustic ballad, “Way Too Soon,” deals with the pandemic, finding Paddy reflecting on the falling rain and coming to terms that some folks “have to leave even though they’ve taken care of themselves.” It flows into “Streets,” which finds Zimmermann alternating between slide and fingerpicking while singing about walking through a neighborhood and wondering, finding it in disrepair and wondering what happened.

Paddy picked up a guitar for the first time after discovering the Rolling Stones. And he celebrates the first meeting of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on a railroad platform in Dartford, England, in 1961 with “Platform Two” before the ballad “Green Boots” is delivered from the standpoint of someone suffering from dementia to close. Sadly, Zimmermann’s father suffered from the condition before passing a decade ago.

There’s plenty of struggle and pain buried in these tunes, sure. But all of the material is interesting, and Paddy’s play comes with bite throughout. And despite the accompanying warning to play this one loud, this definitely doesn’t deliver an unrelenting wall of sound. Even if you’re not a fan of blues-rock, you’ll probably find something to like with this one.“

(Blues Blast Magazine USA, June 2024)

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