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SELECTED REVIEWS

Live (band)   "There's something about watching musicians make a glorious sound with little effort. When the licks and tricks flow from the instruments with ease then you know you're in the company of talent. This was such a night. Even though the
venue could only seat about 40, being so close to
the action really added to the pleasure. It was personal. It was live. With a good sound and an enthusiastic audience the band delivered original interpretations of covers from Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, Slim Harpo and Fats Domino - recognisable through lyrics and melody and personalised with a Jazzy edge. Very nice. Swinging grooves laid down

between Christian Topman (double bass) and Stuart Drinkall (drums) along with Nick Thompson's smooth rhythm/lead playing, gave a cool platform for Paul's captivating open-tuned slide work. Paul's original material was also spot on - staying within the genre yet nudging the boundaries enough to make it driving and fresh." The Talk magazine


Live (solo)   "A word of praise for Mr Paul Judge. Playing slide guitar with walking bass is like doing brain surgery and flying a jet plane at the same time, too much for most people to contemplate let alone attempt - and Mr Judge does it with panache!" Adrian Byron Burns,award winning blues musician


Live (solo)   "Paul provided the enthusiastic audience with an excellent evening of laid back blues. Paul is an accomplished guitarist switching from steel slide guitar to electric throughout the evening. We were treated to a versatile mixture of traditional and self-penned numbers. Taking advantage of the attentive audience Paul was able to play some quite beautiful pieces with some very delicate phrasing, one particular instrumental on the electric guitar inspired a very well deserved ovation. Afterwards Paul confided in me he had made it up on the spot! A sure sign he was responding to a great audience that made him feel appreciated." Dave Pugh, Crawley Blues Club


Live (solo) at Bottleneck Blues Club   "Most readers should be familiar with at least one track from Paul Judge, the haunting slide instrumental 'When You Need Somebody' which ends the Blueprint '98 CD. Paul Jones chose the number to advertise the gig on Jazz FM, which should have been enough to drag you down to Kent.

Paul is a deft National player; not from the 'scrub it and see' school, his picking and slide work are equally accurate and complimented by good vocals. The Saturday crowd here tend to be a little verbose, but they gave Paul some rightly earned respect and he reciprocated with a thoughtful set." Arnold Qumphlutter, Blueprint magazine


Live (solo)   "Paul Judge attracted a large crowd ... He is a skilled craftsman who uses a late 30's National steel and small valve amp to great effect." Linda Fisher, Gloucester Blues Festival


Click here to buy the Person to Person CDPerson to Person CD   

"Well, you don't hear much of this these days. Paul's debut comprises a 50/50 mixture of one-man traditional blues originals and covers, featuring the usual electric and acoustic guitars, as well as a good deal of resonator slide stuff. And his singing is convincing, too - whether it's on Willie Dixon's 'Wang Dang Doodle' or his own 'Gambler's Blues', Paul's sometimes gruff, sometimes smooth voice adds to the overall raw appeal here. A worthy listen, not least because you get to hear the resonators in their full tonal glory, with the marvels of newfangled recording technology. And besides, anyone who lists 'foot percussion' in the instrument credits is alright with us. So alright, in fact, that we asked him to write a new techniques slide column for us." Mick Taylor, Guitarist Magazine


Person to Person CD   "I was interested to see that this debut solo CD is produced by Steve Phillips and I knew that anything associated with Phillips, himself an outstanding performer, would be worthwhile and I was certainly not wrong. This fourteen title set has seven originals alongside cover numbers from amongst others Willie Dixon, John Coltrane and Lightnin' Hopkins. From the latter is 'Home In The Woods' where we find Judge singing in a tough Howlin' Wolf like style with some of the cleanest acoustic guitar playing that you will find in Britain today.

Much of the guitar work is played on a 1930's National Steel guitar put through a small valve amplifier, to great effect on the original instrumentals 'When You Need Somebody' and 'Ain't Asking For Much'. Judge is a tight and precise guitar player and in particular his slide work is both delicate and powerful. He chooses his material with integrity and originality with an instrumental version of John Coltrane's 'Naima' being one of the best moments of this enjoyable set.

Judge can write some good lyrics with 'Understanding Man' being one of the more interesting, with some understated electric guitar picking, while the vocals are at their most enjoyable, being more natural and less forced. There are some evocative backing vocals from Phillips and Sam Payne to liven up another original 'Checking Up On You' and the up tempo version of Willie Dixon's 'Too Late' is another fine moment.

This is an enjoyable and entertaining album. I am sure that this recording will help to spread his worthy reputation even further." Bob Tilling, November 1998, Blueprint magazine (now Blues in Britain)


Person to Person CD   "The release of 'Person to Person' in October 1998 followed on from Paul Judge's success in reaching the Acoustic Guitarist of the Year finals in 1997. 'Person to Person' is a mixture of original songs and covers, including two jazz tunes, all appropriately arranged to suit Judge's impressive guitar and slide work. The vocals are also tuned to suit the material. So, on songs like Willie Dixon's 'Wang Dang Doodle,' and Lightnin' Hopkins' 'Home In The Woods,' for example, Judge adds extra intensity by singing in a rasping smoky voice.

Of the seven original tunes on 'Person to Person,' two are instrumentals. The first of these, 'When You Need Somebody,' is a hauntingly beautiful piece. It highlights the more delicate side of Judge's playing, and it is no wonder it was selected for BluePrint magazine's 1998 'Best of British Blues' CD. In contrast, the following 'Gambler's Blues' (another original) portrays a more brooding mood which blends together elements of Son House and Mississippi Fred McDowell.

Judge's songwriting achieves a very high standard throughout. If there wasn't a listing of the composers in the CD insert, it would be easy to wrongly identify several of Judge's tunes as being from the pre-war period. Each sounds fresh and original, however, rather than simply being a re-hash of an old standard.

A Pacific Island feel is added to Duke Ellington's 'Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me.' Judge arranges it as an instrumental with slide guitar substituting for the horn solos. The mood on the other jazz tune, John Coltrane's ballad 'Naima,' is more Spanish, wandering along the edges of flamenco, without ever crossing over completely.

After 'Naima' the album concludes with another couple of cover versions. The guitar work at the start of Willie Dixon's 'Too Late' (normally associated with Little Walter) is very clever. Initially it appears somewhat discordant, but things becomes clearer when you listen to the rest of the tune: Judge is using the guitar to provide the response to his call of 'It's too late'. The last track is Bo Diddley's 'Mona,' in which Judge relies heavily on the amplification to add a highly atmospheric feel to the song.

Paul Judge is a highly accomplished guitarist, thoroughly deserving of the plaudits he keeps receiving in the British Blues press. 'Person to Person' is a very good album which aptly demonstrates his considerable skills. His talents have been acknowledged by Guitarist magazine, which recently asked him to write and record a monthly slide guitar column for them. And who am I to argue?" Gordon Baxter, Blues on Stage. This review is copyright © 1999 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.


Person to Person CD   "This Briton from North Yorkshire who was christened 'The Prince of the Slide Guitar' by 'The Spectator' has finally come into his own with his long awaited first album. For seven years Paul led the zydeco-blues group The Lizards with whom he recorded two albums, Cajun Blues and The Promised Land. He also played with people like Johnny Mars, Sam Payne, Paul Jones, Dave Kelly, Catfish Keith, and Steve Phillips (who is also the producer of this album) to name but a few. He is regarded as one of the purest acoustic guitarists in England who knows how to choose his material with integrity and originality.

On this attractive disc Paul alternates traditional pieces with numbers of his own. The strength of this CD lies in the freshness with which he is able to cover the traditional numbers. Thus he performs individualistic covers of 'Wang Dang Doodle' and Too Late', both by Willie Dixon and a masterly instrumental version of 'Mona' by Bo Diddley.

Paul is also extremely well able to get into the spirit of his chosen songs. If it has to sound like black music then he can adapt his voice appropriately, so that the songs sound black. Just listen, for example, to his own 'Gamblers Blues', and the aforementioned 'Wang Dang Doodle'. Furthermore, you'll find on this disc strong songs of his own but for me the finest performances are the instrumental numbers that pick up an atmospheric Hawaiian colouring. The most attractive number is the instrumental he wrote himself 'When You Need Somebody', a piece that was immediately included as the final number on the Blueprint '98 collection.

Comparisons with Cooder are of course two-a-penny but this man can really pull it off.

This is clearly a disc for real slide guitar enthusiasts, and they certainly won't regret buying it." Roots Town Music magazine, Belgium, Translation (from the Dutch) by Alan Taylor


Person to Person CD   "You heard Paul Judge performing a Duke Ellington classic 'Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me'. Anyone conversant with bottleneck guitar will know what a tour-de-force it is to adapt the bottleneck technique to music of this style. Paul's album 'Person To Person', also sees him tackling a John Coltrane piece as well as material more in the mainstream of the blues. It was a noteworthy British Blues release of 1998." Henry Ayrton, BBC North Radio


Click here to buy the Love and Hard Work CDLove and Hard Work CD   "It has been four years since Paul Judge released his first album ('Person to Person'). The promise shown on that album helped to secure Judge a slot as slide guitar columnist in Guitarist magazine. In the interim, Judge has also been busy writing material that now sees the light of day on his latest album, 'Love & Hard Work.'

The album opens with the first of seven band pieces, 'All I Need Is You.' It is a prime slice of British r'n'b that calls to mind Wilko Johnson's Solid Senders at their peak. The emotion of the blues shine right through in Judge's electric slide playing and singing, with Matthew Smith providing the gutsy sax break.

There is a quick change of pace for 'Leaving Early,' which starts out with some nifty acoustic slide before the tune rattles along to reach a skiffle-like train tempo. The band also adopt a similar beat to great effect on 'Back Beat Boogie,' with Dave Bowie giving it his all on double bass. On the solo piece 'Sweet Satisfied,' Judge moves even further towards (original) rock'n'roll territory, where he sounds a bit like early Elvis in places.

The album features six instrumentals, three of which Judge delivers solo. The first of these, 'Travelling On,' opens with some very fine Delta guitar picking (on a resonator). The simple, but memorable refrain is repeated throughout, with Judge cranking up the speed by several notches as the tune goes along. Judge's talents as a guitarist and slide player are reinforced by 'Beyond The Horizon,' and the slightly jazzy 'Six Point Boogie.'

Possibly the most impressive track here, however, is 'Catcall.' This band instrumental features some particularly fine electric slide guitar from Judge, which calls to mind the late great Earl Hooker. This is the second number featuring the four-piece band line-up. The other two are the melancholic 'Blues For LEJ' named for Judge's father, to whom the album is dedicated, and the closing 'Night Shift,' another instrumental which tips a hat in the direction of Eric Clapton in his bluesier guise.

'Love & Hard Work' is a nicely crafted album, that highlights Paul Judge's talents in a range of settings: solo, band, vocal, and instrumental. As well as being a fine slide player, Judge has developed strong songwriting skills too. The choice of Steve Phillips - no mean guitar player, himself - as producer is an inspired one, and he brings out the best in Judge. If you like quality slide guitar playing, then you will have to go a long way to find anything that matches 'Love & Hard Work' this year." Gordon Baxter. Full text of review for Blues on Stage, Dec 2002. This review is copyright (c) 2002 Gordon Baxter and Blues On Stage


Love and Hard Work CD   "All thirteen titles on this most recent and enjoyable Paul Judge release are original compositions, including both acoustic and electric tracks, and as you would expect from a man like this they have a very strong blues flavour. Six of the titles are solo, and with the remaining titles he has surrounded himself with some sympathetic musicians who very much complement and enrich his own strong guitar playing and sincere vocals.

The opening title 'All I Need Is You' has a tough edge with some gutsy tenor sax from Matthew Smith, but Judge also shows that he can be subtle and atmospheric on slower blues such as 'Beyond The Horizon', which includes some tasty steel slide guitar work. I really enjoy this guy's slide playing and he really understands how a steel guitar should sound. I am sure that the producer of this set, Steve Phillips, himself a fine and highly respected slide player, had a great deal of input.

There are some beautiful guitar picking harmonics on 'Just Walk On By', again Matthew Smith on sax helps drive this slow blues along, and the electric guitar solo 'Six Point Boogie' has a captivating melody. I really enjoyed 'Blues For LEJ', a slow blues instrumental with a strong jazz feel, and 'Blues By Numbers' moves along at a fast pace with some tough slide work on steel guitar.

Judge can write some good lyrics and his vocals are commanding, although I feel he sounds less strained and more natural on the slower tempo titles. The bass from Dave Bowie and drums from Paul Smith keep this highly recommended set tightly together and I am sure this entertaining release will have a wide appeal - and I bet they kick up a real storm when they perform live. Rating: 8." Bob Tilling. Full text of review printed in Blues in Britain, December 2002




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