Jethro Tull’s Mick Abrahams – Revived! (2015)

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It’s something of a miracle that Mick Abrahams is recording again, after a 2009 stroke took him out of action. In fact, the founding Jethro Tull/Blodwyn Pig guitarist/vocalist wasn’t well enough to make a recovery until 2014. Revived!, with a funny album cover mocking Frankenstein, shows Abrahams hasn’t lost his sense of humor. The levity continues during recording sessions seen on the bonus DVD for Revived!, and in his own liner notes.

Broadly diverse, Revived! (Gonzo Multimedia) also features a number of Mick Abrahams’ famous friends, all of whom give him props by helping out with his first new album in 10 years. Featured songs include some of Abrahams’ personal favorites, as well as a selection of self-penned tunes.

A new solid take on Blodwyn Pig’s rockin’ “Summer Day,” in fact, shows up twice — with an organ and without, to start and end Revived!. I think I would’ve been satisfied with just one version, since they’re not all that different from each other; the organ version perhaps has the slightest edge. However, both versions are superbly sung by Pete Eldridge, who uncannily sounds just like Mick Abrahams did back in 1970. It’s tough to top the original 1969 Blodwyn Pig recording, but they have a go of it. The Canned Heat classic “On The Road Again” is given the proper blues treatment, with guest vocalist Patrick Walsh and Nine Below Zero’s Mark Feltham on harmonica.

Revived! continues with the Chuck Berry classic “Nadine”; again assisted with Eldridge on lead vocals, it chugs along rather well. Mick Abrahams steps up to the mike and takes one of his two solo lead vocals on the blues ballad “Remember,” performing so impressively that I wished he’d sung the majority of lead vocals on Revived! “Goodnight Irene,” a folk classic originally popularized by Lead Belly, is the other Abrahams vocal. It’s made over into a slow blues shuffle, with Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones adding some sweet harp.

An historic first for fans of Jethro Tull takes place as part of a new take on Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ “I Can Tell,” as successor Martin Barre joins Mick Abrahams for their first-ever recording together. It’s a rock-solid performance, as Barre’s tasty lead parts and Abrahams’ tight rhythm guitar are joined by a returning Mark Feltham. Ex-Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman guests on the soulful “I’m a Hog for You,” ably assisted by his Rhythm Kings vocalist Beverley Skeete. Together, they hold things down while Mick Abrahams offers rough n’ ready lead guitar breaks.

The old Jimmy Reed blues standard “Bright Lights Big City” is given a standard performance, with ex-Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden on lead. Here, Mick Abrahams shares vocals with Paul Jones and Ex-Kinks/Argent bassist Jim Rodford. The 1950s’ rock standard “Boney Moronie” provides another up-tempo injection of fun into Revived! Of the three instrumentals included here, “Red River Rock” was an unexpected and inspired choice — a welcome addition to this album’s audio potpourri. The mid-tempo “Hungry for Love” offers a pretty solid pop performance; in fact, it could be a single.

If you purchase Revived! at the label’s web site, Gonzo Multimedia combines the CD with a free 30-minute behind-the-scenes bonus DVD on the making of this project, featuring interviews with Mick Abrahams and some of the core musicians who played on the sessions. Abrahams has arranged that 50 percent of the proceeds from this album, no matter where you buy it, will go to the charity Kids ‘N’ Cancer UK.

As for his next solo album, whenever he decides to record it, I’d like to hear more of Mick Abrahams’ vocals and guitar. But that takes nothing away from the joys of Revived! There may have been little rhyme or reason to the selections, but that wasn’t point. Mick Abrahams sounds like he’s having a lot of fun and that is the operative word here — fun.

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