CD REVIEWS | LIVE REVIEWS
GORDON WOOD SAMPLER (Compilation)
The inimitable singer-songwriter Gordon Wood always manages to gather about him seasoned and aspiring musicians to help capture his unique vision – in the case of this sampler, ten sympatico sidemen, including a number of long-time collaborators familiar with both his live and studio work.
This collection of eight of Wood’s songs, available on CD and online, showcases a characterful artist who happily sails the cross-currents of Americana, blues, rock and even seminal Britpop – from the sub-Beatles excursion (mystery tour?) of And The Sun Will Shine and the evocative Woodstock atmosphere of Out of My Mind, to the rootsy shake ’n’ shuffle of the worldly-wise Long Hard Road (To The Promised Land).
Recorded during the last two decades, these slickly produced tracks (all with videos at YouTube or at gordonwoodmusic.com) demonstrate both versatility and diversity, refreshingly united by an integrity of approach that’s capable of writing over the labels and sustaining lyrics full of neat allusions to Wood’s favoured musical genres.
Except And The Sun Will Shine, which was released as a single, the tracks are taken from three different EPs.
Let’s look at what else we can sample here. Run Johnny Run, an ideal opener, combines spirited, bluesy rock with a rousing country workout featuring banjo, mandolin and fiddle. Midnight Rodeo gives country rock an earthy twist, exemplifying Wood’s artful strengths as a lyricist in a song notable for the sly appeal of its euphemistic theme, and there’s even crafty homage to the Beatles’ ‘Nowhere Man’ in Phil Bird’s mandolin breaks. So Long Blues gives us Wood’s own brand of bruising ‘bluesabilly’, followed by Sweet Angel Eyes which, with its can’t-get-it out-of-your-head hook, driving guitar riff and harmonica backdrop, has the hallmarks of a rock ’n’ roll classic.
Wood’s uncompromising, arresting vocals make you sit up and take notice of the raw emotion, the plaint and the soul power that’s gone into these compositions. Take a look at the Links page on Wood’s website where some of his favourite artists are listed – Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Rolling Stones and the Beatles among them – and you’ll see where he comes from musically and inspirationally, where he got his impeccable credentials.
Better still, listen to this sizzling sampler – perhaps ideally in the ‘twilight hours when shadows fall’ (Graveyard Blues) – and HEAR where he comes from! Loud and clear. - Bob Southern (writer and journalist), May 2021
 
GORDON WOOD and PHIL BIRD - HIGHWAY BLUES (EP)
Straight down the line, honest-to-goodness blues blockbusters comprise the tracks on this latest E.P. release from seasoned UK bluesman Gordon Wood and slick stringster Phil Bird. Sometimes in predatory mood, sometimes cajoling, but always convincing, the incomparable Wood growls and rasps his way through four new songs, two of them co-written with guitarist Bird.
The opener Highway Blues, structured over a powerful, archetypal riff, has a noticeable nod to Dylan's early and recent blues modes. Wood's sometimes quirky but heartfelt lyrics reflect the existential crux so favoured by blues singers as he ponders the elusive vanishing point of indecision symbolised by the CD cover’s artwork. Next up Honey, You're Still on my Mind has a laid-back country blues feel with appetizing moonshiner vocals from Wood, and Bird rolling out a ruminative slide guitar. Gonna Make Her Mine is a sassy southern-fried shuffle, while Do You Ever Get Lonesome charges up the dynamo again with a surefire bar-room shakedown.
Two bonus tracks present beefed-up 'electric versions' of the last two numbers, and raise things a notch with Bird on drums as well as acoustic and electric guitars: Gonna Make Her Mine gets the gut-bucket approach with a real sneaky snare beating up the backdrop, and Do You Ever Get Lonesome receives a dose of Texas thunder to round things off in style.
Wood, who plays acoustic guitar and bass, buttons up the blues like a favourite old overcoat. Bluff but inimitable, and steeped in the tradition and its timeless themes, you really feel he does get lonesome when the sun goes down. This is classic blues which proves the resilience of the genre and its generous response to fresh and authentic interpretations such as this. All tracks were produced jointly by Wood and Bird, who have worked together for many years, and recorded by Bird at his Birdsroost Studios in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. - Geoff Ward (freelance journalist), August 2012

GORDON WOOD and PHIL BIRD - HIGHWAY BLUES (EP)
This 'six-tracker' is a reworking of an E.P. Gordon put out in 2009. There are three tracks from the earlier CD plus three new tracks. Gordon sings and plays rhythm guitar whilst Phil plays lead guitar. The first four tracks are acoustic with the last two being electric versions of two of the numbers.
The CD opens with the title track which is a classic road song, good guitar here. Honey, You're Still On My Mind has good lyrics and tasty slide guitar and is a cracking song. Gonna Make Her Mine is a bouncy up-tempo number, again with good lyrics. There's more good guitar on Do You Ever Get Lonesome. These last two songs get the electric treatment with the latter being the better of the two. Gordon's gruff vocals work well with this material. Phil's guitar is good particularly on the acoustic tracks and the electric versions are sufficiently different to hold the attention. - R. Jim Greaves, BLUES IN BRITAIN MAGAZINE, April 2012
 
GORDON WOOD and PHIL BIRD - HIGHWAY BLUES (Original Version)
(1) What can I say other than this is a very good E.P. Gordon Wood’s vocals are fresh and raw, Phil Bird's guitar just has this rocking but bluesy acoustic vibe which is warming and very welcome to my ears. Highway Blues is the stand out track - the opening riff gets you up from your seat and dancing. The lyrics are very good, honest and from the heart. There’s not one bad thing you can say about the whole E.P. This may only be four tracks long but if you love your acoustic blues then this is one not to be missed. Very good and highly recommended. Leaves you wanting more.
'The Rev', BLUES MATTERS MAGAZINE, August 2010
(2) Gordon Wood comes from the Gloucestershire area and sings and plays guitar. He is joined on this four-tracker by guitarist Phil Bird who handles lead guitar duties. Gordon has been around for a while and his influences come not just from the blues but also country, rockabilly and americana. The music here is a mix of blues, roots and americana and is acoustic rather than electric. Three of the four tracks are originals.
The title track, an original, gets things underway and is in a stomping down home blues style with a "Walking Blues" riff and good lead guitar. Honey, You're Still On My Mind has good lyrics and is delivered with a gruff, whisky soaked voice and some good slide guitar to boot. Do You Ever Get Lonesome is a chugging rocker, which uses more standard blues style lyrics. The CD ends with Willie Dixon's I'm Ready, which was the least convincing performance. The originals are all well 'in style' and Gordon has a good gruff vocal delivery. Phil's lead guitar fits in well and the two guitars mesh well too. There's plenty of energy here and I guess this is a good act to catch live.
R. Jim Greaves, BLUES IN BRITAIN MAGAZINE, June 2010