REAL (2006) is the third offering from the House of Patlansky, and a far cry from the demo quality recording of the debut album of three years ago; the production values just keep on a-growing. Pity about the real awful cover art though. My guess is that either Dan, his mate or his girlfriend, knows Adobe Photoshop (or a close equivalent) and does not want to pay real money to a designer to make up something nice for him. Unfortunately there is also no real creativity here and the lack thereof is a shocking contrast with the music on the disc – the music deserves something better than the shoddy, cheap looking cover. It is real crap.
Enough of the cheap shots. Let's get real.
Our Dan absolutely must be the most fervent Stevie Ray Vaughan acolyte in South Africa. This album might as well be called Homage to Stevie. Patlansky does his level best to sound like Vaughan and his guitar style is so heavily influenced by Vaughan that it borders on pastiche.
The title track, though, has a distinct Jimi Hendrix vibe to the guitar work but is still filtered through Vaughan's take on the style and so we get lots of that Stevie Ray-style stuff along with Patlansky's gruff, soulful voice. He writes or co-writes all of the tunes, except for a weirdly funky yet enervated version of Robert Johnson's 'Dead Shrimp Blues' and a stomping version of 'Your Mama Don't Dance'. The fare is your basic mid-tempo blues shuffle, with one torrid slide guitar number, two soulful ballads (one of which is a reworked "Frozen Dirt" previously on True Blues) and to top it all, an intense 10-minute instrumental, 'Blues For New Orleans", cut live on radio in the Crescent City so recently devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Should one say something about exporting blues to the country of its birth and compare this exercise with selling ice to Eskimos?
Patlansky is a good songwriter and a subtle and moving guitarist, at least in the studio where he reigns in the wild excesses of his showboating live sets. Of all the local bluesmen he is the most authentic in his search to be what he is and not merely to keep on recycling inferior imitations of the blues classics. This album is a lot less varied than True Blues and perhaps not all the better for it; on the other hand the more intense focus gives a greater sense of unity.