The Burner Band “Signs and Wonders”

Shed Load Records, 2021

Incipient, snarling rock and roll melding bluegrass and punk as if this were Memphis in 1954.

Did rock and roll originate in Sun Records Recording Studio, Memphis in 1954? Some might argue that others were treading similar paths bringing together hillbilly tunes, rhythm and blues and a pounding backbeat. It probably doesn’t matter, but The Burner Band would have fit right in at 706 Union Avenue with Sam Phillips behind the mixing desk.

Lewis Burner has released a couple of previous solo albums which have more of a bluegrass and country approach, including the fabulous ‘Dark Wheels Turn Above Our Heads’, which showcased his excellent song-writing and left-wing political sympathies. Adding Ian Blackburn on double bass and a solid snare drum rhythm has created this gem which opens with the superb ‘Blues Came In’ which picks up the riff from George Jones’ ‘White Lightning’ and sounds like the sort of incipient rock and roll which was emerging from Memphis in the early fifties.

But this is far more than a fifties throwback and in the bluegrass of ‘Block Out The S*n’ The Burner Group celebrates Liverpool’s rejection of The Sun (and of Oswald Mosely). ‘Don’t Have To Listen’ is probably one of the most upbeat songs about isolation you are likely to hear.

There’s some great pedal steel on ‘Company Man’ and ‘Signs & Wonders’, a road song which could have been lifted from the legendary Grievous Angels.  ‘Voodoo Queen’ showcases some outstanding harmonica work. Finally, ‘Too Much Blues’ is a fabulous rock and roll song that tackles mental illness with both swagger and some Presley vocal stylings.

Everything is done with real confidence and a punk rock attitude somewhere between Elvis’ and John Lydon’s best sneers.


About Peter Tomkins 33 Articles
What brought me here? The Mekons, The Men They Couldn't Hang, Weddings Parties Anything, Blyth Power, Husker Du, Johnny Cash, Uncle Tupelo, Old 97s, Jerry Lee Lewis, Son Volt, Steve Earle, Bill Monroe, Sarah Shook, and on and on.
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