No Refund Band – Current State of Blue

by Rick Moore

no-refund-band_current-state-of-blueThe Texas-based No Refund Band is back with its second album, Current State of Blue, which is about two-thirds originals, mostly written by lead singer and lead guitarist Ricky Jackson, as well as some guitar-based covers from the classic rock era. What makes this band stand out from so many other guitar-based, sometimes-dinosaurish blues bands is the addition of horns, and the fact that they don’t always just sound like a clone band stealing everyone’s licks.

Nothing really stands out about the original material here; it is what it is, what you would expect it to be from a band of this type, especially in an era when acts like this (read: even ZZ Top or Joe Bonamassa) will probably never see such a thing as a hit single at radio again anyway. The band’s version of the Eric Clapton/Derek and the Dominoes is a little boring, but frankly, so was the original when compared to Dominos classics like “Layla” and “Key to the Highway.” The No Refund Band also does a version of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” that is quite different, with less emphasis in the mix on the heavy guitar than the original that, surprisingly, turns out pretty well. And as for the version here of one of the greatest blues-rock songs of all time, Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues…” well, Jackson wisely doesn’t try to completely copy Moore’s great solos and puts his own stamp on it, and it ends up being a track that sounds far more reverential than derivative, like Jackson knows there was only one Gary Moore and his work can’t be improved upon, only treated with respect.

Overall, there are a lot of bands out there who are trying to do the same thing as the No Refund Band. But the horns, and the honest performances, help put this album a cut above what a lot of people are doing. Overall, good job, guys.

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