Terry Blersh
" Terry Blersh "

Blueswax 8
Rating 7

First Class Flyin', (05/14/09)

The Toronto-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Terry Blersh has just released his self-titled debut CD. It was a pleasant surprise to hear Blersh for the first time as he culls his music from various sources: Blues, Soul, Rock and a smidgeon of Jazz. Blersh's early influences came from Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis, Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, Beatles, Dylan, The Band, Stax, Motown, Hendrix (whom he covers here,) Clapton, Jeff Beck, and local guitar legends Dominic Troiano (check out Troiano's Tricky LP- Wow!) and Freddy Keeler. Blersh's research deepened with Blues and Jazz as he investigated the works of Albert King, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and Nat King Cole.

Blersh played around Canada in various bands. Of particular note was the Blues/Funk band Wooden Teeth, which featured the harp-playing vocalist Michael Pickett and guitarist John Tilden. Around 1982, Blersh stepped out on his own, playing a mix of original material and R&B standards. In the 1990s he found his guitar skills very much in demand and continued to work with his own band, backed up others, and composed and produced music for theatre and television. This long road paid off as we now have this tasty self-produced gem.

Nine of the ten tracks here were authored by Blersh. Highlights include the solid funky grooving "Doin' All Right'," featuring Blersh's efficient yet fiery guitar work reminiscent of another Canadian, Robbie Robertson. "I Don't Need No" is all about Soul and offers intelligent lyrics, interesting hooks, and a surprise ending, and additional kudos to John Mays' supportive vocals. Instrumental tracks like "Flyin'" and "Jammin'" show off Blersh's command on guitar. "Flyin'" is solid and recalls the Allman Brothers' "Dreams" sans vocals. Nice organ work by Denis Keldie, too, and it's on this track we hear Terry's very creative guitar work step out and soar.

"Jammin'" is a cool bluesy jam that closes the disc with more punching organ work from Keldie and explosive outbursts from Blersh's guitar. My only complaint is that this track isn't longer. The one cover is Hendrix' "Fire," and it's a funky romp that Blersh rearranges and makes his own with great riffs. His unit really digs down and gets in the pocket on this one!

Terry Blersh has succeeded in making a very first-class recording. It was recorded and mixed by the A-team engineer Jeremy Darby (Lou Reed, Clapton, Joe Jackson) to whom Terry tells me he owes a lot of credit. But not so fast, Terry, as you've recorded one of the finest independent releases of the year! May there be many more.

Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com