Tommy Falls – Derek’s father, loved rhythm and Blues. Little did he know, his son was listening to all his music. Otis Redding, Elvis Presley and all the great pioneers of soul, rock n roll and Blues.
“One day, my Dad had a party and I asked him if I could play along with my guitar. My Dad asked where I got it. I told him I wanted it so badly that I worked hard and saved all my money.”
Needless to say, the elder Falls, a guitar player himself – was pleased that his son wanted to carry on not only the great tradition of R and B, the family tradition as well …
“I guess I was about thirteen.” Explains Falls. “I would play alongside my Dad. Later, around sixteen – my friends and I started a band and we played all those great R and B tracks. It was the time of Corey Hart‘s popularity, so we started playing his songs as well. ‘Sunglasses at Night‘ , ‘Never Surrender‘ … those songs. I always played with my family band and me and my father and Brother starting playing at home and in shows ”
Not immediately, yet a bit down the road, the father – son tandem evolved into The Mother Jones Band. It featured Derek on lead guitar and Father Tommy by his side playing a Blues rhythm guitar that would make John Lee Hooker himself – very proud. Following one album entitled ‘Father and Son‘ – Derek Falls decided to dip into his solo ‘pool’. He has released several videos, notably ‘Down at the Butcher Shop’ and has just finished recording his new cd; ‘The Better Side of Me’ …
‘I basically sat down, started strumming on the guitar and all these great songs came out. I decided to get a group of musicians together and record the album. I am especially happy Jim Zeller, Quebec‘s finest harmonica player is in the recording. His playing with my acoustic is just so real. It adds a whole dimension to the songs.”
The album, is a throwback to the old days.
‘If I had a Minute”, a track which Derek played live on k103.7fm, is Derek and his guitar introducing a song – or, track two; ‘Corner Stop’. The rest of the band kicks in with Luc Murphy leading the charge on flute. Derek’s riffs, reminiscent of Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower‘, providing a backdrop for Murphy’s instrument flying like a bird gone wild. Some songs remain the same throughout. No need for ebbs and flows. Corner Stop is one of those.
‘They say that I am Crazy’ is Derek’s rendition of Leonard Cohen. Lyrically and soulfully. Just when you think Derek may be too repetitive, too mundane – suddenly the chorus picks up the song and delivers some funky riffs from a backseat derived through some devilish excursion into a Blues’ past riddled with guitar bullets.
‘Down at the Butcher Shop’ and ‘Walk This Way‘ ( not to be confused with Aerosmith’s hit), rock out with a hard guitar and piercing solos by Falls. The great thing about Derek, is his non – shyness to add phrases introducing his directions while he goes. Hooker did it, Muddy Waters did it – now, add Falls to that list. Amid this ‘sound-a-like’ world which we live in, Falls’ tunes remain ‘old school’ yet at the same time – unique.
‘Like a Rolling Stone‘ and ‘Heading on Down the Road’ provide a slower Bluesy tracking device to the listener. Zeller’s harp and Emilie Desroches’ violin – providing an old – fashioned backdrop to Falls’ songwriting scriptures. Once more – a call goes out to the masters. Obvious that Tommy Falls’ inspiration added up in the plus column.
‘I’m a Strange Nor Ordinary Man‘ is the best song on the album. It’s a hit waiting in the wings. Zeller’s harp kicking off the sort of song heard in old western movies. Suddenly, Falls jumps in and it’s a 1970’s ‘woe is me’ feel good riff. Foot – tapping with an Allman Brothers – type chorus making an easy route to a smile more convenient. Falls’ solo near the end – magical!
‘The Better Side of Me’, the title track is haunting. Side by side with Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. Can ‘Creep’ be explained? You cannot explain ‘The Better side of Me’ either. Just listen and enjoy …
‘Angel Devine’ brings Luc Murphy and his flute back to the front of the line. A happy-go-lucky tune with a hint of The J. Geils Band‘s ‘Angel in Blue‘. Faintly. A great song to listen to while writing, thinking or driving in the night. Non – threatening in a threatening way.
‘King and Queen’ is the weordest song this side of a combination of Tiny Tim and Weird Al. Weird in such a great way. A fantastic song with Sergiu Popa on the accordion. Adding a ‘French ‘ feel straight from the boulevards of Gay Paris. Combined with Falls’ R and B influence and catchy lyrics – ‘King and Queen’; the second best song on the album.
‘Been a Long Time’, ‘Cherry Love’, ‘I’ll Be There’ and ‘Who Do You Know’ finish the album in Derek Falls’ style. Four ballads which instill passion, romance and possibly the greatest blending of an electric guitar in slow tunes ever. Falls retains the uniqueness to write love songs which others would simply overdo and overdub. Falls simply strums from his heart and that noise is captured by the hearts within earshot.
Derek Falls will be playing most of his new tracks on the terrace at Annies sur La Lac on Friday the 10th of May. He will also be playing covers from the R and B greats.
Manu Pele – one of the best bass players from the Ivory Coast of Africa will be joining him along with a drummer to be named later.
Eat, drink and listen to Derek fill the air with sounds of happiness – old school style …