Ruthless Blues
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Described by Time Out as "London premier good time bar boogie band", Ruthless bring fun filled musical virtuosity & of course Rocking Blues!
Formed in 1979, Ruthless Blues current line up of Little Stevie Smith harp/vox (Joanne Kelly/Long John Baldry/Salt/Bad Manners), Tony Fernandez drums (Rick Wakeman/The Strawbs/Dana Gillespie), Chas Cronk bass (The Strawbs/Steve Hackett/Roy Hill) & guitarist Martin Taylor have been together for over 20 years.

In 1989 Ruthless became the first UK blues band to play the USSR and actually played one show in a blues club situated in an igloo.

They recorded 2 CD's for President Records including "(Is That the Blues) Sure Enough" as well as the historic ‘Live at the Torrington’ for Mystic. They were the last band to play the Torrington which shut after a historic 40 years.

Here are some clips from Live At The Torrington:
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Break My Back
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Tie Me Up

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Fine Fine Fine

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Click here to see Ruthless Blues in the photo gallery


Fun Filled Prime Time Bar Room Blues;
or The Band That Refuses To Lie Down & Die Quietly!

The following article is reproduced in full by kind permission of Pete Feenstra and Soundcheck magazine.

Ruthless Blues are many things to many people. After all, a band of roughly 18 years standing probably picks up enough fans and runs up enough memorable moments along the way to fill a scrapbook with memories.

Imagine the fuss then, when some nine months or so ago (these things are never accurate) the rumour spread across the manor that Ruthless were playing their last gig. In true Ruthless style, the rumour became an avalanche and gig goers who hadn't been seen for years suddenly reappeared. The unlikely assemblage comprised rock-blues fans, live music fans, Yardbird fans (yes they remembered guitarist John Knightsbridge and drummer Jim McCarty) and even the odd debt collector!!! But we jest.

In the event the afore mentioned gigs packed out three or four sun drenched venues in the height of summer, and then a silence descended. And so the story continues….

OK! Steve Smith, the indefatigable front man harmonicist/vocalist and fun filled South London legend, retreated to his Scottish Highlands abode, bass player Andy Herbert picked up yet more session work and dabbled with technology. Drummer Tony Fernandez, hooked up with long time musical compatriot Rick Wakeman for a World Tour, and guitarist Martyn Taylor remained a stoic Yorkshire man of mystery.

Basically whatever it is he does when he’s from the band always leaves him fired up to return with jagged edged, steely riffs every time the band chooses to reconvene. And of course reconvene, the band did! For all his duo work, song writing, harmonica playing, tinitinitus and house husbandry, Steve Smith is a performer of the highest order. His feet itched, his sense of humour became stifled, and even a 15 hour journey down to The Smoke from the very north of the Highlands seemed worth the effort once the band hit its stride in front of their loyal followers.

In short, Ruthless rode again. Fernandez planned to move to Southern Europe, but his Wakeman tour was brought forward, leaving time for a reunion, Andy Herbert was in between tours, leaving only the whereabouts to be ascertained of guitarist Taylor. As if it were the trademark of this band, the pros and cons were "ummed and aaahhhed" over and before long a gaggle of dates were organised, and surprise, surprise, the fans flocked to see them.

In short, Ruthless rode again. Fernandez planned to move to Southern Europe, but his Wakeman tour was brought forward, leaving time for a reunion, Andy Herbert was in between tours, leaving only the whereabouts to be ascertained of guitarist Taylor. As if it were the trademark of this band, the pros and cons were "ummed and aaahhhed" over and before long a gaggle of dates were organised, and surprise, surprise, the fans flocked to see them.

Even on a hot summers' night on a Thursday at The Torrington , the band gave their absolute all in front of the die-hards. And that night all but epitomised the band's history. For here was a collection of the finest UK rock blues players who in the name of Ruthless Blues had played in the old USSR, and played in Spitsbergen/Norway - the roof of Europe somewhere North of the Arctic Circle. Here was a band that had played one of Europe's biggest biker rallies in Germany; had played annual sell out blues gigs on the Thames and had opened up for sell out shows with Walter Trout, and had, down the years featured members such as John "Irish" Earle; John Knightsbridge; Johnny Mars and Jim McCarty, Paul McCallum - a Whose Who of international Rock Blues, and who collectively had recorded a handful of albums and tapes etc. Above all, here was a brand name that continues to draw old and new fans alike, even though the annual gig figure barely tops a dozen or so gigs a year!

And the thing about the 18-year history that the most loyal fans will tell you about is that the best gigs have often been in front of the smallest crowds. The opposite happens too of course, but the point is that the core elements of fun and the love of live music have sustained Ruthless Blues over a far longer period than anyone of them could ever have imagined. The band's new found popularity is full of irony of course. Having signed in the late 80's for President records, Ruthless recorded a brace of albums, gained radio airplay, but ended their contract one short of the three album deal. A combination of line-up changes, and the looming break through of CD's as the musical carrier of the time , all but sidelined a band who in terms of the live circuit were one of the most popular outfits in town.

Rightly described as "London's leading Rock Blues outfit" by Time Out, Ruthless blazed a trail, adding rare humour to a blistering set, and topped things off with Stevie Smith's inflatable instruments, spontaneous South London rap, and fierce harp work. Such was the power and passion of the band that they continued apace in spite of organisational problems, and line-up changes

And so almost as if by design, as the final bend comes in sight, the band find themselves jet propelled into another musical chapter that has so far outstayed many soap operas. A long awaited live album is being mulled over, and a few more gigs have been added before Christmas.

And finally what about the music I hear you cry? Well Ruthless Blues have written a hatful of classic rock blues outings from the thunderous "The Stomp (Is that The Blues)"; to the galloping "Handle"; the tongue in cheek "Break My Back"; and the celebratory singalong "Rolling Drunk".

With the recent changes the set has tended to include innovative re-workings of Van Morrison's "Gloria"; Marvyn Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine"(The Stevie Smith rap version); and the less imaginative but eloquently played "Walking By Myself". The magical mixture that produces the winning blend is Stevie's Smith confrontational approach to the audience, Tony Fernandez's uncluttered brilliance - the ultimate left-handed drummer- Andy Herbert’s seamless bass lines, and Martyn Taylor's explosive guitar playing.

Together as Ruthless Blues, this band provide exhilarating bar room boogie, the perfect musical accompaniment to four beaming smiles. Here's to the next 10 years boys.

Pete Feenstra
Soundcheck Magazine - January 2002