Some people are just born to sing the blues. It’s almost as they’re predestined to follow in the well trodden path of bluesmen like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Floyd Dixon and Jimmy Rogers. There’s something about their world weary voices, the experiences they share, and their storytelling skills. Mostly, it’s about their voices, tinged with sadness and regret in equal measures with hurt and pain. One modern bluesman who has all that and much more is Big Boy Bloater. His voice has a world weary, whiskey and cigarettes soaked, lived in sound. Too many late nights and disappointments have colored this veteran of modern blues scene voice, given it the sound that people have flocked to see for over twenty years. Soon, Big Boy Bloater and The Limits will be releasing their second album The World Explained on 1st October 2012. This is the followup to 2011s Big Boy Bloater and The Limits. Now Big Boy Bloater and The Limits are back. The ten new tracks that comprise The World Explained see Big Boy Bloaters explore subjects like “life, love and loss.” These ten song are a very personal exploration of relationships and ambition along with hopes and dreams. Before I tell you about the music on Big Boy Bloater and The Limits forthcoming album The World Explained, I’ll tell you about Big Boy Bloater’s musical journey to becoming the UK’s best bluesman.

When Big Boy Bloater first picked up a guitar aged eleven, he never realized that this decision would shape his future. His destiny had been decided, only he never knew it. Spurred on by his father’s love of music, it didn’t take long for Big Boy Bloater’s career to get underway. Aged just thirteen, he was soon playing in local pubs and clubs to earn pocket money. Soon, he went from sideman to band leader, fronting his own bands. Quickly, Big Boy Bloater and his band became a favorite among the vintage R&B and blues crowds. One of these bands were Big Boy Bloater and His Southside Stompers.

Big Boy Bloater and His Southside Stompers would go on to release four albums between 1998 and 2006. This started with Jumpin’ Rhythm and Blues in 1999, with You Better Believe It following in 2001 and Great Hunk of A Man in 2003. The last album Big Boy Bloater and His Southside Stompers released was 2006s What You Been Praying For? After this, Big Boy Bloater would become a solo artist.

With Big Boy Bloater now a solo artist, he released That Ain’t My Name in 2008. By then, Big Boy Bloater was constantly touring, wooing crowds worldwide. His fan-base was rapidly growing, with DJ Mark Lamarr a huge fan of Big Boy Bloater’s music. He was so impressed with Big Boy Bloater’s music, that Mark even used his own money behind a limited edition of release of one of Big Boy Bloater’s tracks. With his fan-base now including numerous musicians, Big Boy Bloater was establishing a reputation as one of the hottest session players.

Throughout his career, Big Boy Bloater’s virtuoso guitar playing skills were in demand for recording sessions and for R&B, blues and rock and roll musicians visiting the UK. This has lead to Big Boy Bloater playing sessions and touring with Harvey Faqua, Imelda May, Wanda Jackson, Roddy Jackson, Chuck Rio, Paloma Faith, Frankie Miller, The Five Keys and Eddy Clearwater. Then out of the blue, Paul McCartney invited Big Boy Bloater to the Abbey Road Studios to play on a session. Now that Big Boy Bloater had established himself as a bandleader, recording artist, session musician and friend to the stars, you’d have thought Big Boy Bloater was happy. After all, his career was on an ever-upward curve and his reputation higher than ever. Not so. Then in 2009, Big Boy Bloater realized his career needed a change of direction.

The problem was Big Boy Bloater felt restless and trapped. He needed a change of direction, needed something new, something different and something that would challenge him, something that would push him to his limits. So after finishing his band, he decided to take a step back. This might seem strange. After all, Big Boy Bloater’s band were a hugely successful, constantly in-demand band, touring far and wide. However, this gamble paid off. Big Boy Bloater spent much of 2010 writing new material, honoring existing commitments and enjoyed being a musician again. During this period, Big Boy Bloater recorded sessions for Mark Lamarr, Jo Wiley Paul Jones and Jools Holland. Now refreshed and ready, Big Boy Bloater would launch his solo career in 2011.

At the beginning of 2011, Big Boy Bloater launched his solo career. He had a new sound, a new band and a new album. His new band were Big Boy Bloater and The Limits, who released their debut album Big Boy Bloater and The Limits in March 2011. Big Boy Bloater and The Limits was released to critical acclaim, with critics praising Big Boy Bloater and The Limits’ new, mature, musical style. After this, Big Boy Bloater and The Limits spent time supporting Imelda May during November 2011. Then in February 2012, Big Boy Bloater and The Limits embarked upon a headline tour of the UK. Having wooed audiences throughout the UK, Big Boy Bloater and The Limits then set about recording their second album The World Expanded.

For Big Boy Bloater and The Limits’ second album The World Explained, Big Boy Bloater wrote ten new tracks where he explore subjects like “life, love and loss.” These ten song are a very personal exploration of relationships and ambition along with hopes and dreams. The World Explained will be released on 1st October 2012. However, on 3oth July 2012  Big Boy Bloater and The Limits released the lead single from The World Explained Leonard Cohen. That should whet Big Boy Bloater and The Limits’ fans until the release of The World Explained. What will also whet your appetite is my review of the ten tracks on The World Explained and the story behind them.

Opening Big Boy Bloater & The Limits’ second album The World Explained is Leonard Cohen. Like the other songs on the album, there’s a story behind the song. It’s about life on the road with band. The track is based upon a true story, when the band caught food poisoning. When traveling home exhausted, all Big Boy Bloater can remember is seeing a magazine with Leonard Cohen’s face on the cover, lying on the dashboard of the van. Bursting into life with the rhythm section, guitars and keyboards accompanies Big Boy Bloater’s gnarled, emotive vocal. His band add handclaps and tight soaring harmonies, while pounding drums, and sizzling, searing guitars dance across the arrangement. By the end of the track, you realize just why it was chosen as a single. It provides a storming start to the album, painting a picture about the pitfalls and experiences that bind a band together.

Lifetime Money Back Guarantee is about a friend of Big Boy Bloater’s whose cautious in life, including relationships. Here, Big Boy Bloater sings that with relationships, there certainly isn’t a Lifetime Money Back Guarantee. There’s a different sound to the track, with the tempo slower, but with the track blessed with a meandering bluesy and sometimes dramatic sounding arrangement. Just the guitar opens the track, before the rhythm section and then keyboards join in. Big Boy Bloater’s vocal is heartfelt and world weary, tinged with experience and hurt, as The Limits build up the drama. Later, he steps forward laying down one of his trademark guitar solos, demonstrating why he’s so in-demand as a session player. Although Big Boy Bloater’s vocal and guitar playing are key to the track’s sound and success, the other four members play important roles. However, it’s only Big Boy Bloater that offers wise words of advice on relationships. Maybe he’s the one qualified to do so.

On I Can’t Forget About You, you can hear how Big Boy Bloater has matured as a songwriter and storyteller. The song is about a celebrity stalker who try as he may, keeps seeing the person everywhere they look. So strong are the lyrics and the delivery, you can picture the scenes unfolding before your eyes. This track has more in common with Leonard Cohen, and is a rocking, catchy blues. Here, Big Boy Bloater plays keyboards and guitars, while The Limits drive the track along and add sweeping harmonies. His vocal is full of torment, paranoia and pain, with his guitar playing peerless. He plays quickly and accurately, his guitar chiming and a perfect replacement for his vocal. While so many of the tracks on The World Explained are catchy, this for me, is most hook-laden of the ten. It worms its way into your subconscious and you find yourself constantly singing it.

She Gets Naked For A Living is a track about an inept burlesque dancer who once played on the same bill as Big Boy Bloater. She was clumsy, with her ambition not matched by her talent and the track examines her feelings towards her more talented contemporaries. As the track opens, it has a deliberately clumsy sound, similar to the dancer’s talent. Big Boy Bloater’s vocal is a mixture of power, sass and sadness at her ineptness. Meanwhile, The Limits add a broody, moody backdrop, contrasted by tight harmonies. Later, Big Boy Bloater uses his surf-tinged guitar and string to build up waves of drama. This is a masterstroke and really effective, adding to what’s already a powerful, thoughtful track, tinged with pathos and humour in equal measures.

Double Whammy is the only song on The World Explained that isn’t a new song. It was previously the B-side of the limited edition of the single Mark Lamarr financed. Mind you, given how good it is, it’s deserving of its place on the album. It’s a bit like the tracks that used to be released in the sixties to create a new dance craze. Maybe after The World Explained is released people will be doing the Double Whammy. The best way to describe the track is a good time, really catchy rocking track where waves of music are unleashed. Key to the track are Big Boy Bloater’s guitar playing, while The Limits rhythm section help drive the track along. With its gloriously vintage sound, you’re swept away atop waves of good-time music, as you try to work out the moves to The Double Whammy.

Stop Dragging Me Back is a song many people, myself included will be able to relate to. Anyone whose a positive and forward thinking person will know a really negative person that keeps bursting your bubble. They try to stop you innovating, drag you down. This is a song to play to these people. Chiming, searing guitars and pounding drums are joined by driving guitars as if Big Boy Bloater’s frustration at these people has spilled over. His voice is full of frustration and anger, with the arrangement reflecting this. Later, flourishes of keyboards drift in and out, but it’s the driving guitars and vocal that are key to the track’s energetic, anthemic sound. Next time someone bursts your bubble, sing just four words to them… Stop Dragging Me Back.

Evil Twist was a phrase that Big Boy Bloater thought of, and decided to write a song around it. It’s a dramatic, emotive relationship song, about a relationship gone very wrong. Here, the whole band get the chance to showcase their considerable talents. The rhythm section add a choppy backdrop, while swathes of keyboards and guitars accompany the vocal. Big Boy Bloater’s vocal is tined with bravado, while pain and hurt simmer below the surface. You can hear it in his voice, it’s almost tangible. Both his guitar playing and keyboards is tinged with emotion, reflecting and amplifying the heartache and hurt in his vocal.  

Everyone who enjoys a good night out, has a Black Sambuca song. Big Boy Bloater describes this track as the soundtrack to the nights he’s spent in pubs and clubs of Soho. It’s an instrumental track, with a real vintage sound, not unlike what you’d expect to hear in a late sixties or seventies film soundtrack. Here, Big Boy Bloater unleashes some peerless guitar playing, while layer upon layer of keyboards add to the track’s vintage sound. Meanwhile, the rhythm section anchor the track, providing the track’s pounding heartbeat. Although the whole band play their part in what is a blistering, vintage sounding instrumental, it’s Big Boy Bloater’s guitar playing that steals the show. 

Having written so many dark songs, Big Boy Bloater decided to write a happy song. The result was Insanely Happy, about a man that’s happy for the first time in years, because his relationship has ended. From the opening bars, you’re smitten by the track. Again, you find yourself singing along with the lyrics, a smile on your face. Big Boy Bloater’s powerful vocal is full of joy, with the rhythm section, guitar and keyboards accompanying. Harmonies accompany him, while the backdrop reflects the joy in the vocal. Things get even better when Big Boy Bloater adds a sizzling guitar solo. That’s the cherry on Mr. Kipling’s cake. Although Mrs. Bloater wan’t too happy when she heard the track, I’m sure she’ll appreciate this a hook-laden, sing-a-long track, that’s not in the least autobiographical. 

Closing The World Explained is Hey-Funky, a paean to good times. Big Boy Bloater sings “you’ve only got one life, so enjoy it,” a sentiment I can only second. Pounding drums, surf tinged, driving guitars, stabs of keyboard and Big Boy Bloater’s throaty vocal combine as this hard rocking, driving track unfolds. You’re swept along by Big Boy Bloater and The Limits’ energy, enthusiasm and sheer talent. One last time, Big Boy Bloater lays down a stunning guitar solo, as if determined to end Closing The World on a high. This he does and then some more.

Having constantly played Big Boy Bloater and The Limits’ The World Explained since the moment I received the album, I can truly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the album. It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard for ages. No wonder Big Boy Bloater is referred to as the elder statesman of the British blues scene. On The World Explained, one great track follows hard on the heels of the previous one. Each track have two things in common, a great story behind the song and the quality of each song. Big Boy Bloater is like a painter on The World Explained. He draws upon a wide and varied palette of musical colors. Using his memories and experiences, Big Boy Bloater has written ten songs with equally strong musical narratives. So vivid are the pictures Big Boy Bloater paints, that you can imagine the pictures unfolding before your eyes. From the cautious character on Money Back Guarantee, the paranoia of On I Can’t Forget About You to the tragi-comedy and pathos of She Gets Naked For A Living you’re introduced to a cast of colorful characters. Then there’s the anger and frustration of Stop Dragging Me Back, the pain and hurt of Evil Twist and the sheer joy of Black Sambuca, Insanely Happy and Hey-Funky. These songs show Big Bloater maturing as a singer, songwriter and storyteller, while his guitar playing is breathtaking and peerless. You’ll go a long way before you hear a better guitar player than Big Boy Bloater. That’s why he’s so in-demand as a session musician. Hopefully, after the release of Big Boy Bloater and The Limits’ second album on The World Explained on 1st October 2012, Big Boy Bloater won’t be playing as many sessions. Instead, the music on The World Explained should see Big Boy Bloater and The Limits make their commercial breakthrough and be touring the world, wooing audiences with his unique combination of blues and soul. Given how good the music on Big Boy Bloater and The Limits’ second album The World Explained is, that seems like a given. Standout Tracks: Leonard Cohen, On I Can’t Forget About You, She Gets Naked For A Living and Evil Twist.



  1. tom

    Brilliant sound but who’s on sticks, bass and keys?

    • Hi Tom,

      Glad you liked the review. The World Explained is a brilliant album. The Limits line-up is bassist Mike Powell, Matt Cowley drums and percussion, Matt Empson keyboards, Pete Cook saxophone and Mike Peake on trumpet. If you’ve never heard Big Boy Bloater and The Limits, try their debut album Big Boy and The Limits. That’ll keep you entertained until The World Explained is released. You should also have a listen to Snowboy Presents New Vintage Volume 1 on BBE Music. There’s some great vintage sounding music, including Big Boy Bloater. I’ve reviewed both Big Boy and The Bloaters and Snowboy Presents New Vintage Volume 1 here. Thanks for your comments. Enjoy some great music.

      Best Wishes,

  2. haha Derek – I’m not sure who Big Boy and the Bloaters are – but I think you mean Big Boy Bloater and the Limits! ;o)
    Just for the record the saxes and trumpet were brought in just for a couple of small recording parts, they’re not part of the touring band. The touring band line-up can vary, but it is usually Matt Cowley on drums and Mike Powell on bass and various key players. Additional people can be brought in on bigger gigs, depending on the show and the set!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Well spotted, sounds like a covers band. I’ve got a link to the website, so people can find out much more about Big Boy Bloater and The Limits. I thought that the saxophone and trumpets aren’t members of the band, but always like to credit the whole line-up. Everyone played their part in making The World Explained a great album. Thanks for that Lisa. I’m still loving the album, and played it a couple of times this afternoon. Brilliant. Have a great weekend.

      Best Wishes,


  3. BTW physical copies of all Big Boy Bloater stuff can be found at his shop – or you can get digital via the usual places!

    • Hi Lisa,
      I’ve put a link to the website, so people can find out more about Big Boy Bloater and The LImits. I’m pleased that there are two concerts in Scotland in November, Airdrie and Dundee. Big Boy Bloater and The LImits will go down a storm, I’m sure of that. Airdrie which is near Glasgow, will love the band and the music. Should be a great night. Enjoy your weekend.

      Best Wishes,

  4. Sorry Derek, only just saw your reply! THANK YOU!! Really appreciate the great review and the links! Cheers x

    • Hi Lisa,

      Glad you liked the review. It’s been really popular and I’ve plenty of emails about it. People are really excited about the album and the tour. The link has been really busy too, so all in all a big success. Hopefully, I’ll be able still be able to book a couple of tickets for the concert in Airdrie. Things have been hectic, so haven’t had time yet. Fingers crossed, there are still some available. I hope that tour and album go well.

      Best Wishes,
      Derek 🙂

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