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Sweet Mother of God, what have I just heard?!?

This is the 5th solo album by former Thundermug guitarist Bill Durst from Stratford, Ontario, and it’s one of the most exciting records I have heard in a very long time. “Every once in awhile in the life of an artist the gods do smile” Durst says in the bio, “and you are helped by unseen hands. After experimenting for a few years, we have found our musical sweet spot.”

Good, Good Lovin’ is the blues alright, but it also rocks like a motherf**ker, and the comparison that immediately comes to mind is if Stevie Ray and Billy Gibbons had a love child. Written by Durst and bassist Joe DeAngelis (also Thundermug’s original vocalist) and driven by the insistent pounding of drummer Corey Thompson, the performance of each of the 9 songs on this album are absolutely fearless. I love how it feels like the band is just leaning into it and going for broke at every possible turn.

They say you can judge people by the company they keep, and Bill Durst has opened for the likes of Aerosmith, The Yardbirds, Little Feat, Johnny Winter and Bad Company, and no doubt terrified them in doing so. This set is very physical, it feels like turbo charged Texas blues, it’s like a big, nasty muscle car smokin’ the tires and daring anyone to take them on. Bill Durst is an incredible guitarist- not in the “weedly-weedly, look how fast I can play” sense, but in the way each chord and every note he plays is drenched in soul and sweat- I’ll take that over the lightning ANY day.

Good, Good Lovin’ is a rockin’ blues record, with muscle, soul and vitality to spare. Some albums are good, some even great- this one is SPECTACULAR.

ESSENTIAL: King Snake Prowl, 21st Century Blues, Northern Electric

- John the Rock Doctor, Gonzo Online

Bill Durst (Durstwerks)

“Hard And Heavy” marks the second album I have received from Canadian Blues Rocker Extraordinaire Bill Durst, of which his previous release “Live”, I wrote, “I received Bill Durst’s newest album “Live”, a few weeks back and I must say that I really can’t get enough of this great Blues Rockin’ masterpiece. It is absolutely great from beginning to end and certainly one of the most entertaining Live albums I have listened to, so far, in 2012.” This album impressed me enough, that I had no problem awarding it Best Canadian Live Blues Album in my 2012 Year End Review. After listening to “Hard And Heavy”, just once, I must say that I already have the same level of excitement that listening to ‘Live” gave me, maybe even more.

“Hard and Heavy” consists of ten great Tracks, the songs are all originals written by Bill Durst and Joe DeAngelis. Bill Durst is a very prolific song writer having written and recorded over 100 songs on ten albums.

Joining Bill Durst (Guitar/Lead Vocals) on “Hard And Heavy” is Joe DeAngelis (Bass and Backing Vocals), Sandesh John Fernandez (Drums) and Corey Thompson on Track 3 “I’m Your Man”. Joe DeAngelis offers up his expertise as longtime co-writer with Bill Durst and longtime band mate from previous incarnations, most notably “Thundermug, a hugely popular Canadian band that was active from 1970 to 1976 and from 1991 to 2001 they released eight top 30 Canadian singles and five albums.” Corey Thompson joined Thundermug in 1991 when it reunited.

What I get the most out of not only “Live”, but also “Hard And Heavy”, and that is the sound on these albums reminds me a lot of ZZ Top, the good early Bluesy Rock era. It is that sound that makes Bill Durst’s music so unique, especially amongst Canadian Blues Rockers, for whom no one comes close. Also take the fact that Bill Durst, “has long been compared to the best guitar player/singer/entertainers anywhere in the world”, and you have the perfect Trifecta needed for really great rockin’ albums.

Picking 3 favourites was not an easy task as “Hard And Heavy” hits you with one great tune after another, but never the less, I chose the opener, “Devil And The Deep”, Track 7 “Gimme That Something”, and the close “Fly Away Home”. Both “Devil And The Deep” and “Gimme That Something” were great ZZ Top style rockers, with laid back Vocals and Grinding Guitar. This is the kind of stuff I can listen to all day. “Fly Away Home” clocked in as the second shortest song on “Hard And Heavy”, but it was packed with the most amount of lyrical and musical punch. Really loved that one…

“Hard And Heavy” marks the first submitted album that I have received for 2014, but in my books, I really feel that when the dust settles after all the other new releases hit the air waves, it is “Hard And Heavy” that will still be very near the top, if not still at the top, of my favourite Blues Rock albums of 2014.“Hard and Heavy” is a real winner of an album, with a sound like no other you are likely to hear this year, and as with Bill Durst’s previous release “Live”, I enthusiastically give “Hard And Heavy” my highest rating of 5*****.For those of you whom like your Blues Rock in the styling of ZZ Top and beyond, “Hard And Heavy” is a must have beauty.

Review by John Vermilyea for Blues Underground Network

Blues Underground Network CD Review
Bill Durst – Hard And Heavy

Bill Durst –Live
Self Release
10 tracks / 45:21

Blues Blast Magazine Review Of Bill Durst Live

Under their national MAPL system, Canadian radio stations must allot up to 40% of their airtime for Canadian artists, and this program helps grow local bands in a market that might otherwise be saturated by their brothers from the other side of the border. Some of these artists become big enough that their popularity extends further south, but often times it ends up that these acts get a loyal Canadian following so they enjoy good careers without us Americans ever hearing anything about them. Bill Durst is part of the latter group.

"Bill Durst has been around the block a few times, having been active in the music scene for the past four decades, both as a solo artist and with the band, Thundermug. Since 1972, he has cut ten albums and had seven hits on the Canadian charts. Somewhere in there he played with Tres Hombres, a ZZ Top tribute band, which is how he ended up with that fantastic beard!

Live is Bill Durst’s latest effort, with ten tracks that were recorded at The Music Hall in London, Ontario back in late 2010. Seven of these songs are originals that were written by Bill and Joe DeAngelis, his buddy from Thundermug, and there are also three neat cover tunes. Bill takes on the guitar and vocal chores, and he is joined by Corey Thompson on drums and Paul Loeffelholz on bass and backing vocals. This is one tight power trio!

 “Love Have Mercy” is the first track up, and we find out that the beard is not the only thing that Durst got from his stint in Tres Hombres – he came out of that band as a consummate blues rocker, with killer guitar chops, a distinctive voice and the heart of a showman. There is a definite ZZ Top influence in his music, albeit with an edgier sound and a much funkier bass presence.

After this sizzling opener, the band settles into two covers written in 1960 by Willie Dixon. The first is “Little Red Rooster,” which was originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf, and then “I Want to Be Loved,” which was popularized by Muddy Waters. In case it ever comes up in a trivia contest, the Rolling Stones covered both of these songs too. Anyway, Bill’s versions of these songs have a different vibe than the originals, as they have been converted to his style of Southern/Texas blues rock. These are Bill Durst songs now through and through, and Loeffelholz’s walking bass lines (punctuated by slaps and pops) are nothing like you would find in the originals.

The other cover is ambitious, as it is hard to top the version of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues” that the Allman Brothers included on their 1971 juggernaut, At Filmore East. Bill and his band rose to the challenge, and they knocked this one out of the park. Once again they reinvented this song in their own style, and this fast-faced roadhouse blues lends itself well to Durst’s guitar skills, which are prodigious. I am not going risk the wrath of the Allman’s fans by directly comparing the two versions, but I will let this one rest by saying that it would be very hard to do better than what these guys did with this classic..

Besides his guitar chops, Bill Durst has his singing down too. On first impression, he seems to have the typical growly bluesman voice, but after listening for a while I was taken by his vocal range, as well as all of the extra nuances he adds in. He can take a grunt, hoot or holler, and interject it so that it really affects the mood of the song. I am sure that you have heard singers try to do this before and fail, because it comes off as phony or contrived, but Durst can do it with such a natural feel that it really adds to the music. You can hear this with his woo hoo’s on the Creole-influenced “Café’ on the Gaspe” or his ability to mimic his guitar with the vocals on “Wandering Blues” (my favorite track on Live).

Bill is a master songwriter too, and his original tracks are certainly well-crafted, but what is more noticeable is how he lets his sense of humor take over every now and then. It can be semi-subtle, like reworking a children’s song into a drinking anthem with “Porcelain Bus,” or more overt, such as the “Hole in My Soul” self-improvement plan: “…I’m gonna give up my cocaine and buy me a bag of pot.” You have to love this stuff!

Live performance CDs can be a dicey at times, but this disc avoids the usual pitfalls. The instruments and vocals are well-recorded with good mixing, and the transitions from track to track are seamless. Also, as all three performers are veterans there is not a miscue or clunker to be found. This is particularly impressive when you consider that these guys did not know they were going to use the recordings from this show to cut a live album.

This CD was a fine introduction for me to Bill Durst’s music, and I am going to have to track down some of his other material so I can hear what else he has done. Live is a great snapshot of what he and his band are capable of, and their live show must also really be something to see. Give it a listen, or better yet, go to his website to see if he is playing in your area anytime soon!

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at www.rexbass.com.

(Please excuse the Google translation)

At the end of the year rains are excellent to fantastic releases. This "Live" Bill Durst is certainly there. In the Blues genre, this album definitely belongs to the better albums of the year. Moreover, we tend to this a must-have to slide forward for fans of this style. The curious thing about this album is that she actually was recorded without the knowledge of the band that a release would come. What you hear is a degree of spontaneity steaming and fascinates from start to finish.

The Canadian Bill Durst meanwhile in four decades, more than a hundred songs to his credit standing, both solo and with his band Thundermug, resulting in a dozen albums. In between he played also with Tres Hombres, a ZZ Top Tribute Band. On the cover of the "Live" can indeed see a heavy nod to this band. His previous release "The Great Willy Mammoth" was one of the best Canadian Blue Albums declared and after listening to this live album this should not surprise too wekken.Tien songs, seven of which are written by Durst and his friend Joe De Angelis, we get samples. The recordings date from 2010 and were included in The Music Hall in London, Ontario. The power trio sitting alongside frontman who takes the guitars and vocals on his behalf, from Paul Loeffelholz on bass and Corey Thompson on drums.

Aftrapper service is great "Love Have Mercy". In this fantastic opener you can get some ZZ Top perceive influences but if this results is obviously nothing wrong with that at such a catchy, meestampbare songs. Durst is a superb guitarist inventive rages on the funky bass lines. You can hardly imagine a better start to a concert than this song. The covers that follow his "Little Red Rooster" and "I Want To Be Loved". Both songs are written by Willie Dixon enjoy but probably better known by the respective versions of Howlin 'Wolf, later, closer to home also fantastic retreaded by Arno and Muddy Waters. They are already nearly platgecoverde songs but the great merit of Durst that he has since given more than a personal touch. We rebounded spontaneously from our office at the end of this duo. And actually we are in a whole series there should also Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues" to specify when. And although the original song forever and will always be found in our list of favorite songs, the version that we can hear here get count on our absolute approval and admiration.

Durst is next to a fantastic guitarist also a gifted entertainer. The way he was singing in the soul of the songs do live in is impressive. Then again, growling, almost crying, screaming or restrained, the man can handle it. And if we took the censer was not enough to top we still wish also man's qualities as a songwriter to put in the spotlight. What it would be crazy to say that his songs remain afloat effortlessly between the three classics for the simple reason that he has personal touch given. But apart from that it is particularly enjoy, at times, subcutaneous humor in the lyrics and the fantastic sound that constantly prevails on this album. Rocking, stomping, slowend ... pass all styles of the genre all the revue at the same high level.

I cannot and will not quote highlights from the plate in this review. The album has become one quality piece. But a favorite song here at the house and a guarantee for the repeat button is formidable "Cry Like A River". An absolute must so for the fans of this genre and for me a reason to study the man's earlier work.

Luc Meert www.rootstime.be

Rootstime, Belgium
Review of Bill Durst Live

I received Bill Durst's newest album "Live", a few weeks back and I must say that I really can't get enough of this great Blues Rockin' masterpiece. It is absolutely great from beginning to end and certainly one of the most entertaining Live albums I have listened to, so far, in 2012, and believe it or not, the album was recording without even Bill Durst or the band being aware of that fact tell the next day. So basically what you hear, on "Live", is Bill playing the way he always plays live, and that is simply like a big old pile of steaming Guitar awesomeness.

Bill Durst has long been considered one of the best guitar players, singers, and even entertainers, in the world, with over 100 songs to his credit and extensive touring throughout the planet. Recently he received the coveted London Music Award for Best R&B/Blues Artist of the Year. His previous release, The Great Willy Mammoth, was declared one of Canada's Best Blues Albums for 2011 by Blind Lemon News, something you will have no problem understanding why, after you start listening to "Live".

Bill Durst achieved early career success with his band, Thundermug, whom released their debut album THUNDERMUG STRIKES in 1972 of which their song "Africa" proved to be a huge success and quickly propelled them to headliner status. In the mid 80's, Bill Durst branched off a bit with a side gig which was referred to as “the biggest bar band in Canada”, named Tres Hombres, a ZZ Top clone band. Looking at the cover photo on his album "Live", you will notice that Bill Durst has quite a beard; well now you know when he started growing it.

"Live" consists of 10 Tracks of what has been called "a candid and unpretentious view into the hearts of the musicians", which with Bill Durst (Guitar/Lead Vocals), also included Corey Thompson on Drums, and Paul Loeffelholz on Bass and Backing Vocals. 7 of the Tracks are originals that were co-written by Bill Durst and high school friend and Thundermug compatriot, Joe DeAngelis. For the covers on "Live", they played 3 great ones, Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" & "I Want To Be Loved" and Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues". Those were 3 songs that they absolutely nailed with their live performance.

As for favorites on "Live', ain't going to do, as this album has favorite paint balled all over each and every song as Bill and the band offer up the truest of Blues Rock gems, from start to finish.

I really had not heard of Bill Durst until now, and boy oh boy what a great intro "Live" was, to this amazing artist. Can't wait to explore some of his previous work and super looking forward to more from Bill and company in the hopefully near future.

“Those of you whom love their Blues Rock in a fashion similar to good old ZZ Top, will absolutely love, "Live".

For Blues Rock or Rockin Blues, "Live" enthusiastically gets my highest rating of 5*****.

Highly Recommended and Really Thoroughly Enjoyed.

Review by John Vermilyea for Blues Underground Network

Blues Underground Network
Bill Durst Live - Review

Former rocker reinvents himself with ‘the real heavy blues’

EDMONTON- William “Willy” Durst doesn’t mince words when it comes to the blues.

“Stand back, because I’m gonna hit it heavier,” he insists. "There’s gonna be some meat on these bones and a sturdy, punchy, kick-ass tone."

At 60, London, Ont.’s Durst is one of the unsung heroes of the Canadian blues scene, a guitarist, singer and songwriter who deftly borrows from various periods and styles of the blues tradition. He puts it all together with unapologetic exuberance, finding particular finesse with a steel slide.

You can hear it right from the opening moments of River, from The Great Willy Mammoth, his last album. The lyrics urge us to take anger, prejudice and hate and “throw away the weight of the world” as the jangling power chords of his guitar and a rowdy groove drives home those sentiments. And that’s only the first track.

Durst has little sympathy for the ethos of purity, underlined in his eclectic approach.

“As Buddy Guy put it, ‘the blues is a mutt.’

While his albums take in varied shades of rockin’ blues, electric and acoustic, the consistent thread is a depth of feeling.

“I have always loved the power of the real heavy blues stuff,” Durst says. “For a long time I couldn’t understand why more blues bands weren’t more powerful. Why not? In Robert Johnson I heard a spectacular symphonic attempt by one man doing some complicated guitar. Muddy Waters made me realize it was entirely possible.”

After following such examples for more than 40 years now, winning his own share of notoriety in groups like Ontario’s Thundermug, and opening for everyone from John Mayall to Sly Stone, Durst’s earthy eccentricity may be ripe for wider attention. You can decide for yourself when he hits Blue On Whyte all this week.

As a kid growing up in Wingham and then London, Ont., he took after other family members and started piano at seven. Then the Beatles, the Yardbirds and the rest of the British Invasion showed up, and lightning struck with Jimi Hendrix. Like thousands of others Durst was converted to rock, to researching the blues that inspired it, and to electric guitar at 12. Seeing B.B. King in Toronto at 16 was the final epiphany.

At the time he was playing in a local rhythm and blues revue, complete with horns. When Durst and some other players realized they could make it on their own they left to found a blues-rock unit in 1969, the group that was later named Thundermug. By the time he turned 20 they even had the No. 1 record in London and a developing fan base across Eastern Canada. Their first hit single, Africa, actually sold 20,000 copies in Detroit.

Thundermug had several incarnations, as a quartet and then trio during the 1970s on labels like Epic and Axe, only to regroup for most of the 1990s and another string of chart hits. Durst feels they remained true to their original interest in rock and all things R&B and the notion of forging their own path.

“If you’re not going to do anything different why bother?”

A sojourn with a ZZ Top tribute band in the ’80s inspired Durst to grow the thick beard he still sports today. In among seven Thundermug albums he also put out his first two solo releases in the mid-’80s, but it wasn’t really until the early 2000s that Durst got some real career momentum with his own band and a disc of favourite covers called The Wharncliffe Sessions (2005), and then with his all-original set The Great Willy Mammoth (2009). That title song is a “joke on myself” and the long braided beard that’s part of his look.

Right now he’s hyped over a new live album the band will have out by mid-summer, but you can hear a few of the new tunes, older hits and imaginative cover interpretations when Durst’s touring power trio (with Calgary bassist Cam Dougall and Ontario drummer Justin Burgess) join him for a return visit to Blue On Whyte.

Durst’s trio plays the Commercial Hotel venue from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Blues coming soon

But remember to mark your calendar for Sunday, July 8 when the Commercial marks a “Celebration Of The Century.” Yes, the hotel turns 100, complete with an all-day street party that will close off Whyte Avenue between 103rd and 104th streets and a long list of live performers, including Boogie Patrol, E.C. Scott and others.

ROGER LEVESQUE, EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM JUNE 13, 2012© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Bill Durst may very well be the closest thing to a bona fide musical living legend that our sleepy would-be metropolis has ever seen. From international chart success with his truly amazing band Thundermug to the many solo albums he has issued since, he has never given over to posturing of any kind and has stood his ground firmly regarding his music, personal identity and independence. The Great Willy Mammoth is an impressive effort indeed, with Durst laying down fine and effortlessly sure performances with his gritty Rio Grande Mud vocals and bear-down-heard six-string work that will leave no doubt that the fire has not only definite not gone out here but in fact may be heating up more than a degree or two. Recommended.

- Rob Nicholson - Scene Magazine

Bill Durst - The Great Willy Mammoth (Durstwerks)

For years, or more accurately decades, Bill Durst has been considered by many to be Southwestern Ontario's most accomplished guitar player. Durst gained national attention in the early days of Canadian rock as the lead guitar player and songwriter for Thundermug, who are best remembered for the single, Africa, which he co-wrote. The Wharncliffe Sessions is a rock-blues guitar album that features classic tunes most guitar players know, but few would dare record. If you are going to release a recording of so many familiar tunes, you'd better be an exceptional player, and Durst is exactly that. His versions of Little Wing and Voodoo Child are worthy of comparison to the originals. Durst's slide-guitar playing on Statesboro Blues is right on the money and his version of ZZ Top's, Tube Snake Boogie is a keeper: Drummer Ted Peacock and bassist Paul Loeffelholtz deserve mention for providing exciting support as well as keeping the grooves fresh. The Wharncliffe Sessions is a very strong debut by three of London's most accomplished musicians.

-Christopher Michaels - Scene Magazine

Bill Durst Band - The Wharncliffe Sessions (Indie)


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