They say nostalgia isn’t what it used to be but let me assure you that in the case of Suffolk blues band Built For Comfort it most certainly is. Back in the 1990s the Comforts were one of the most popular acts in our region, playing to packed pubs and releasing a tremendous album called Big. My home county had already produced some excellent blues outfits including the Pete Croft Blues Band, Lacey Street Blues Band and The Mean Red Spiders so it didn’t come as any surprise to me when Suffolk came up with another. Taking their name from a Willie Dixon song made famous by Howlin’ Wolf, Built For Comfort soon established themselves on the local circuit.
Their first and only album, Big, really did capture the group in all their glory. Recorded over a few days at Purple Rain Studios in Great Yarmouth by Richard Hammerton, the CD remains one of the finest recordings made by a Suffolk band. All twelve tracks on it received an airing on BBC Radio Suffolk recently and for a very good reason. It coincided with five of the eight members of the band who played on that album reconvening for three reunion gigs last month.
The Comforts’ comeback was spearheaded by guitarist Adam Clarkson and bassist Kelvin Hill who somehow managed to pull it all together in only a few months. Adam lives up in Scotland these days and hasn’t played in a group for quite some time. Kelvin has more than kept his hand in though, performing on a pretty regular basis with Blues Situation. Another founder member Mark Stuart also remains an important part of the local music scene and is often seen in The Super Things and Nolan Wiltz’s Homebrew. Those three musicians managed to persuade trumpet player Giles Wright and harmonica player/trumpeter Kevin Wells to dust off their instruments, meaning that the reunion could happen.
Sadly, lead singer Mal Brierley has been unwell in recent times and wasn’t able to take part but I’m told he was at the Friday night gig at the John Peel Centre to lend his support. Drummers George Fothergill and Dave Bynoe were also unable to attend, as was harmonica player Dave Wright but they all gave the comeback their blessing and I know would have loved to have been part of the action had they been able to.
I couldn’t make the Stowmarket gig but did give the reunion lots of radio coverage in the run-up to the weekend. Kelvin guested on my BBC Re-Introducing show on at 9pm on Wednesday, June 26 and then two days later Adam joined me on my Drivetime show at 6-15pm. If you get in quick you can catch up on those via the BBC Sounds app and website.
I did make the Sunday evening gig at The Salutation in Ipswich. Rightly so, the place was packed and it was lovely to see so many local musicians turning out for the occasion. It spoke volumes of how highly Built For Comfort were thought of all those years ago.
Special mention must be made of the man who had the unenviable task of filling Mal’s shoes – Scottish based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tomlin Leckie. I made a point of congratulating Tomlin on his efforts. He’d obviously gone to a lot of trouble to learn all the material and I was very impressed by how easy he made it sound.
Built For Comfort had already secured their place in the history of Suffolk’s music scene and it was lovely to have them back, if only for a weekend. Something tells me it’s not the last we’ll hear from them. They have the bit between the teeth and I don’t think they’ll letting go of it easily.