Two early solo albums from Tony McPhee – one of which is more of a mixed group affair overall! First up is Me & The Devil – fantastic acoustic blues from Tony McPhee – maybe best known as a member of The Groundhogs, but working here in a looser, more stripped-down mode – acoustic guitar, harmonica, and spare rhythms – all of which give Tony plenty of space to stretch out in the lead! As with Alexis Korner during the end of the 60s, McPhee's clearly influenced by older American blues, but is turning the phrasing towards a mode that would be picked up and shifted in just a year or two by bigger groups in the rock world – a Swan Song legacy that includes Led Zeppelin
and Bad Company. Yet in in the all-acoustic, very rootsy sound here the approach is very different – and the record also features some equally bluesy vocals by a young Jo-Ann Kelly! Titles include "Elevator Woman", "Duckin & Dodgin", "Same Thing On My Mind", "Broke Down Engine", "Buy You A Diamond Ring", and "You Better Mind". I Asked For Water is a very cool collection of bluesier work from the UK underground at the end of the 60s – a set put together by Tony TS McPhee of The Groundhogs – with work by that group, Brett Marvin & The Thunderbolts, and the Andy Fernbach Connexion – working in different settings, and with other tracks that feature vocals by Jo-Ann Kelly, who you might know from later soul fame – as well as John Lewis, Jim Pitts, and Graham Hines. Yet all work is in a country blues mode – but with phrasing that really points the way towards near-immediate rock transformations of such a sound – on titles that include "Oh Death", "Dust My Blues", "Built My Hopes Too High", "Nervous", "Boogie Woman", and "I'm So Tired".