“Instrumentals are not a guilty pleasure. They grant the listener insight into the pleasure of performance” – Henry Senior Jr.
Anyone who’s seen Danny and the Champions of the World live knows the importance they place on inventive jams and musical excellence. It was inevitable, then, that when the Champs’ pedal steel player Henry Senior Jr. cut an album of instrumentals it would be musically flawless.
The album features the rest of the Champions of the World so that’s surely a Paul Lush solo giving opening track, Green Fingers, a Fifties electric edge. It’s a Back To The Future tonal touch for an album that playfully journeys back and forth through 20th century musical styles.
Goodbye Bowler Hat has a gentle, almost dreamy, ska backbeat. Meanwhile, Plates of Meat and Better Left Unsaid both have a Seventies funk vibe, popping with flourishes from the Champs’ Free Jazz Geoff. His work sparkles in Along Came Molly, too.
The decades continue to fall away as Senior Jr. pedals back in time to the Roaring Twenties for Cat Doggin’. It has a fast and furious Speakeasy style, recalling late nights at smoky gin joints. It joins Ruby Red as an album highlight; both play with speed and challenge preconceptions of the instrument and instrumentals.
In The Presence of Namaqua closes the album, a languorous track showcasing Senior Jr’s serious talent. Crucially, the record is no indulgent vanity piece – each cut is tight and nuanced, the styles surprisingly varied while still working together as a unified whole.
Plates of Meat is an instrumental tour de force, tailor-made for late nights and soundtracks. It’s an accomplished debut for Henry Senior Jr. and a triumphant first outing for Maiden Voyage Recording Company, Del Day and Danny (The Champ) George Wilson’s new record label.
Plates of Meat is available now on vinyl or CD from Maiden Voyage’s website – grab one of those nifty Maiden Voyage t-shirts while you’re at it! #supportindependentmusic