RAB NOAKES & BROOKS WILLIAMS – Should We Tell Him (Red Guitar Blue Music RGBM-2301)

Should We Tell HimBrooks Williams seems to have the happy knack of meeting people and, being a nice bloke, befriending them and then convincing them to record with him. The idea for Should We Tell Him had been in development for some time but Rab Noakes’ failing health gave the project some urgency. They were fortunate that the recording was pretty much complete when Rab was lost to us, leaving Brooks to add the final touches, taking the tapes to Abbey Road for mastering.

At first glance, without reading the notes, I was excited at the prospect of some of Rab’s old hits mixed with Brooks’ Americana – that would have been a fine album. Turn the package over and you find that this is a collection of songs by Don Everly (some in partnership with brother Phil). Some of these songs appeared the brothers’ albums, others as the B-sides of singles behind more famous songs by such writers as Felice & Boudleaux Bryant. Rab and Brooks don’t have Everly voices but they have the feeling for the music as do their band: Conor Smith on pedal steel and guitar, Hilary Brooks on keys, Kevin McGuire on bass and the drums and percussion of Signy Jakobsdottir (who else?).

The opener, laden with steel guitar, ‘It Only Costs A Dime’, is taken from the brothers’ 1966 album, In Our Image, as do ‘I’ll Never Get Over You’ and ‘It’s All Over’. Even a casual listen allows you pick to out the way they influenced other artists – there’s a bit of Bob Dylan here, a touch of Johnny Cash there. The second track is the even older ‘Sigh, Cry, Almost Die’ from A Date With The Everly Brothers which also yielded ‘That’s Just Too Much’. The title track and ‘I Wonder If I Care As Much’ date from 1958 and their first album but I have to say that my favourite is the wonderfully bitter ‘I’m Not Angry’. Yeah! Right!

Should We Tell Him is delightfully laidback which might seem to be at odds with the bitter-sweet nature of much of the material but the approach echoes the more innocent age of the original recordings. That said, ‘Since You Broke My Heart’ is quite a rocker. It’s such a pity that we’ll never hear this ensemble live on stage.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.brookswilliams.com

‘Should We Tell Him’ – official video: