HANS THEESSINK "Lifeline"
(1998, Blue Groove BG-9020) , produced by Hans Theessink
My favourite instrument is the human voice and on Lifeline I managed to collaborate with some of my favourite singers. Again all people that I met at festivals and gigs around the world. First time I heard Linda Tillery & The Cultural Heritage Choir they floored me with their singing. The same thing happened when I met The Holmes Brothers and Insingizi for the first time. So I was in heaven to have them all on this session. Of course it was a very special treat to have Charles Brown as leadvocalist on my song "Love Sweet Love" - Charles died shortly after this recording. Hans Theessink
Hans Theessink: vocals, guitars, banjo, mandolin, mando-guitar
Jon Sass: tuba
Christian Eigner: drums
Popsy Dixon: drums, backing vocals
Sherman Holmes: bass, backing vocals
Wendell Holmes: guitar, backing vocals
Pee Wee Ellis: tenor sax
Charles Brown: lead vocal on "Love Sweet Love"
Linda Tillery & The Cultural Heritage Choir: backing vocals
Insingizi Emnyama: backing vocals
Jatinder Thakur: tablas
Alee Thelfa: percussion, backing vocals
David Perlman: pedal steel, dobro
Eoin Duignan: uillean pipes
Angus Thomas: upright bass
Richard Bell: organ
From the opening bars of Soul on Fire you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a new Ry Cooder album at last but you would be wrong by a windmill or two. Influenced by the likes of Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy, Dutch guitarist Hans Theessink (pronounced "tay-sink") successfully moves across musical borders with ease on his 15th album (where has he been hiding?).
Lifeline is just the right mixture of deftly played acoustic blues, gospel and soul channelled into a union that highlights the diversity and durability of roots music at it's best with guests like Charles Brown and The Holmes Brothers. There are 11 excellent original tracks to soak up, as well as covers of Rev Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, and the Neville Brothers. A rare treat! (Ross Middlemiss, The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Although Lifeline is Hans Theessink's 15th album, I freely admit that it was my introduction to the work of this rather impressive Dutch bluesman!
In spite of an impressive roster of guest artists including The Holmes Brothers (heard on five tracks), Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir (also on five songs), blues crooner Charles Brown (Love Sweet Love), saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis (Missing You), the Zimbabwean vocal group Insingizi Emnyama (on Ready For The Ride and Soul On Fire) and the excellent tuba player Jon Sass on four selections, it is the big voice, original songs, tasty guitar work and other string instruments of Theessink (pronounced Tay-sink) that are rightly the natural focal point of Lifeline.
Fans of Ry Cooder, Geoff Muldaur and the like will find little difficulty in relating to the work of Hans Theessink, a 'roots' and blues-based artist who, like them, is not afraid of looking outside the square when it comes to seeking inspiration and collaboration. Most of the material here is selfpenned, the exceptions being Blind Willie johnson's Soul Of A Man, Reverend Gary Davis' Death Don't Have No Mercy and Six Strings Down, a moving song written by Jimmy Vaughan and The Neville Bbrothers, which is dedicated to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. (Living Blues, USA)
I first saw Hans Theessink live at the Burnley Blues Festival about ten years ago where he performed solo on just a Martin guitar and harmonica. On this latest very well produced set there is just one solo track "Mandolin Man" which pays tribute to one of his friends and mentors, the great mandolin player Yank Rachell. This is Theessink as I remember him all those years back. Playing beautifully controlled guitar with earthy and sincere vocals. He is equally relaxed and inventive when, as he is here, surrounded by talented and committed fellow vocalists and musicians. I was particularly excited to hear Charles Brown's lead vocal on a jazzy Theessink original "Love, Sweet Love", and the presence of the energetic and sophisticated Holmes Brothers on a number of titles adds great class. I greatly enjoyed the guitar break by Wendell Holmes on another Theessink title, "Automobile", which rocks along at a great pace. Another exciting aspect of the set is the backing on five tracks from Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir. They add tremendous vitality and passion with the opening title "Soul On Fire" setting a high standard for the remaining titles. Hans illustrates here that he can write good songs, sing and play with great skill and integrity. He can attract some very talented performers to work alongside him and produce an exciting set that I'm sure will have a wide appeal. (Bob Tilling, Blueprint, UK)