CD Review

Issue #29 of REAL BLUES Magazine. (Canadian Publication) VP & THE HAMMERHEADS: HYPNOTIZED 

VP stands for Victor Polyik, an Australian-born Vancouver-based singer/harp man, who is firmly entrenched in West Coast Jump Blues and he’s definitely got the sound and spirit down. Co-produced by Vancouver Bluesabilly icon, Pete Turland, the backup crew on this disc is crème-de-la-crème with Canada’s stunning guitar champ, Greg ‘Jr.’ Demchuk, right up front with his Pete ‘Guitar’ Lewin meets Pee Wee Crayton pickin’ and Mr. VP proves that his label name is totally appropriate. The Vancouver all-star line-up is as follows: Polyik (vocals, harp), Jr. Demchuk (guitar), Alex Stevenson (keyboards), Ken Wilson (doghouse bass - Hi Ken!) and the greatest drummer on the West Coast, Sandy ‘Keep-It-Simple’ Smith, Pete Turland (doghouse bass, 1 track), Rene Hein (drums), the upcoming Blues Star, Dave Dykhuizen (guitar, 1 track) and Steve and Sue Kozak, Ron Mathison, Susan Paczek, Derek Seed and Jessica Tessier as back-up vocals. Now, I have to say that after listening to this CD through a couple of times, I can’t think of a better Blues CD to come out of Canada in the last decade. It rocks, it grabs your ears and your ass and the level of talent and execution is a standard setter. Recorded at Tom Lavin’s Blue Wave Studios, the sound is crystal clear and the mixing/mastering couldn’t be better. The harp and guitar BITE YOU! As I’d never heard Victor Polyik before (even live), this disc is an absolute revelation. Twelve exceptionally strong songs (when I saw “Crazy Mixed Up World”, I shuddered as no one who has attempted this unique Little Walter song has ever pulled it off, but Victor does wonderfully, thanks to some keen re-arranging) that flow like a dancing river, each one a special treat, make this CD one of the most enjoyable and joyous musical experiences that I’ve had in a long, long time. I don’t know much about Victor’s history or his mentors, but given his powerful and fluid harp work, he’s being propelled right to the top ranks of my Greatest Harp Players list. He also does something that I wish more players would do – he sticks to keys that are more suited to his voice and pulls off everything he attempts with no pain to trained ears (which is a rarity these days). …A. Grigg

 

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