2015 – Hokahey! Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 7, 2015
Ain’t Bad Yet, the sixth album from Finnish blues-rock group Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip is an instant hit as far as I’m concerned. The lineup of the band remains the same, featuring Bjorklof (vocals/harmonica/guitar), Lefty Leppänen(electric guitar/slide guitar), Teemu Vuorela(drums), Seppo Nuolikoski(bass) and Timo Roiko-Jokela(percussion/malletkat). Terrific songs and outstanding performances with a rich southern vibe are key to the allure of this album, which by the way is produced by legendary John Porter.
A saucy rhythm, joined with hot harmonica licks, spill all over “Rat Race”, a spectacular jammin’ favorite, reminiscent of one of my favorite bands, Phish. I love the change of tempo when the band breaks into “Sweet Dream’s a Sweet Dream”, a slightly spacy Hendrix-influenced treat. Leppänen’s swampy slide guitar sounds so good on “Last Train to Memphis”, and “Today”.
Catchy blues-filed hooks and a hard driving beat keep the anti-war anthem “Rain in Jerusalem” quite centered. This is such a powerful song. Bjorklof delivers funky vocals and sweet harmonica over a really cool little bass-line provided by Seppo on “Hold Your Fire Baby”. Gritty blues sounds best with some cool harp.
I dig the twangy “Blame It On the Bright Lights”, with its catchy back-beat. John Porter steps in with guitar in hand and is joined by singers Lena Lindroos and Veera Railio. This song reminds me a lot of southern twangsters, Southern Culture on the Skids. I can’t help but feel good all over when I hear it.
Ain’t Bad Yet is a soulful blend of blues and country, making this eleven track album a refreshingly cool listen from start to end. Micke Bjorklof and Blue Strip definitely hit this one out of the park.