You have to admit that Glasgow’s Daniel Meade has several strings to his bow. Run through his back catalogue and you’ll find country, country blues, rockabilly, hillbilly, boogie woogie, honky tonk and good old fashioned rock’nroll all rubbing shoulders. A compulsive (and very talented) songwriter, Meade also has an eclectic approach to recording with some of his albums being entirely home made one man band productions while others have entailed trips to Nashville and collaborations with the likes of Old Crow Medicine Show, Diane Jones and Joshua Hedley. What we can say with some certainty is that all of the albums are well worth grabbing a hold of, while we can also say (again with some certainty) that if Meade has a natural element to be in then it’s when he’s onstage with his regular band The Flying Mules. Of his seven albums there’s only one credited to Meade and The Mules but anyone who has seen this band live will know that their high-energy rockabilly/skiffle approach allows Meade’s songs to leap out. In addition, in guitarist Lloyd Reid, Meade has the perfect foil as Reid’s mastery of his Hofner guitar adds an excellent touch to the songs channelling the likes of Barney Kessel and Les Paul.
There’s a degree of serendipity in this live album from Meade and The Flying Mules. They were playing in Shetland back in 2016 and the sound engineer was trying out a new rig so he recorded the show. Fast forward to last year and Meade was rummaging through some stuff and came across the recordings and reckoned they were good enough for a “warts and all” guerrilla release, a quick smash’n’grab affair perhaps but anyone buying this is not going to complain. It’s a short show (just over 30 minutes, they were the support band that night) but it’s well recorded and a grand document of the band in their live glory. There’s a swagger about them as they run through ten songs with a delightful sense of energy and glee, the audience cheering them along throughout with Meade’s laconic Glasgow wit on show in the introductions. They swing mightily, the rhythm section of Mark Ferrie on double bass and Thomas Sutherland on drums, loose and tight (as Meade says), driving the songs while Reid rips out several scintillating solos.
Take a listen to the opening bars of Back To Hell and try to tell us that this is not the sound of Sun Studios back in the Memphis glory days as the band pick up a head of steam while Long Gone Wrong is surely summoning up the ghost of Lonnie Donegan. Meade has a knack for excellent song titles with There’s A Headstone Where My Heart Used To Be one of the best and they do it full justice here. Let Me Off At The Bottom takes the foot off the throttle slightly allowing Meade to come across in a jaunty Hank Williams style while Please Louise rumbles mightily with slightly risqué lyrics recalling the pre bowdlerised days of rent parties and juke joints. While the sources of much of Meade’s music is American he successfully transports the idiom to Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street on the energetic bash that is What You Waiting For which paints such a vivid portrait you can almost smell the vinegar wafting from The Blue Lagoon. However his roots are to the fore on Rising River Blues, a tremendous hucklebuck which harks back to the numerous songs commemorating river floods in the American south while the band close with a cover of a Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee song, Hooray, Hooray. The fact that it fits in perfectly with the rest of the set shows that Meade is indeed rooting around in the same fertile ground as these blues pioneers and keeping alive a precious tradition.
As live albums go this is top deck, immensely entertaining and vibrant. It allows Meade to showcase The Flying Mules on several songs he recorded without them and they certainly rise to the occasion. If you have seen the band live then this is a tremendous souvenir. If you haven’t, then this is a tremendous introduction.
This isn’t from the album but was recorded by the BBC around the same time.