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Mick Clarke - Bent Frets

Mick Clarke
Bent Frets

The new album, released January 2018, recorded by Mick at Rockfold Studio, Surrey. The album features 13 tracks, including 9 original songs plus versions of songs by Tarheel Slim, Charley Patton, Pearly Brown and Robert Johnson. There are 4 instrumental tracks on the album.

Bent Frets is out now on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and all other major platforms plus CD release on Rockfold Records. More news here as it happens.

01 Daddy-O
02 Spoonful Blues
03 Number Nine
04 If You Really Mean It
05 Mean Old World
06 Heart of Stone
07 Don't Take That Road
08 La Mauvaise Herbe
09 Kitchen
10 Mountain Road
11 Still Be Mine
12 Hat Rack
13 Leaning to the View

Recorded and Mixed by Mick Clarke at Fabulous Rockfold Studio, Surrey, England.
Mastered by Torch Music, Ascot, Berkshire.

All songs written by Mick Clarke except "Number Nine Train" by Tarheel Slim, "Spoonful Blues" by Charley Patton, "Come on in my Kitchen" by Robert Johnson and "Mean Old World" arr. by Pearly Brown.

Listen and Follow on Spotify

The Spotify release has been updated. Please note that running order and some mixes will differ from the CD release.

If you like the music - please buy some!

Download is available now from iTunes and Amazon Music
Also available on CD from Amazon On Demand. These CDs are custom made by Amazon in the USA.

A little background (from Mick)..

The Bent Frets of the title are on my Squier Stratocaster which I've been playing slide on since the 80s. On this album I decided to try it as a regular tuned guitar for normal type lead guitar use, and put a set of regular strings on.

What makes this guitar unusual is that as I've been playing slide on it for all these years, the frets are completely mangled. The metal slide has worn a groove in the side of the neck and battered the frets into hairpins. So bending a note is challenging. No smooth ascent, more of a kind of d-d-d-d-bbrring!! Notes actually disappear and reappear of their own volition, or change pitch without warning. It's very interesting. And I think that as the guitar is an old road warrior its character must come through in the music somehow. Anyhow it sounds great - perfect for the rock'n'roll, and as someone said, the strat can cry or get angry as you wish. Leo Fender did make extraordinarily good guitars.

My SG Gnasher makes a few appearances, as do a few other guitars, but as I recently read in Keith Richards' book, it's usually a simple choice: "is it going to be Gibson or Fender?".

So here's a bunch of new songs and a few old ones - hope you enjoy them. As usual I've thoroughly enjoyed putting this album together and I hope that comes across. Music is my job, my hobby and my therapy. I recommend it to cure any ills! Keep Rockin' the blues..

Mick, Fabulous Rockfold Studio, Surrey, November 2017


Rockin' instrumental - the backing riff is an attempt to sound like Willie Johnson from Howlin' Wolf's band - lead is the Strat on neck pickup - the organ break in the middle always summons up an image of Monty Python's Terry Jones at the Hammond.

Spoonful Blues

From the Charley Patton version of of an even earlier song (originally played by a bloke on a banjo), and presumably something like what Willie Dixon took and turned into a song for Howlin' Wolf and eventually Cream. Quite a journey. Anyway I like this version - it's got a tune. The lyrics are minimal but you can fill in the gaps yourself. Everybody needs a spoonful - of what? You decide.

Number Nine

From Tarheel Slim's "Number Nine Train". This developed into a kind of rockabilly type thing although it wasn't intentional. I've come to the conclusion that if you take an old blues and try to rock it up, rockabilly is a stage you will inevitably pass through on the way to full bodied rock blues - it just depends where you want to stop. Interestingly I later found a similar version by Dale Hawkins (Susie Q) but it's pure coincidence. Tarheel Slim was actually named Allen Bunn but was nicknamed Tarheel as all residents of North Carolina are, apparently. Who knew? I think the name change was a good career move.

If You Really Mean It

I like this track. I don't know why, but it settles me down. I played it through at the end of every session on this album just to round off the day. It's my attempt to sound like the Willie Mitchell Band or Booker T or some-one - solid and funky (I hope). The Strat sounds nice on top, played with fingers rather than a pick. The title means anything you want - a love song, a song of hope, loss, breakup, promise... again, you choose.

Mean Old World

Taken from Pearly Brown's lovely gospel type arrangement of this very old song. Again the Strat blasting through the neck pickup and the bent frets taking the notes to interesting places at times.

Heart of Stone

This album's political corner. There seems to be a lot of hard hearted politics going on at the moment - in America and over here in Europe, let alone in Asia and the Middle East. Anyway, my message to the world - "Don't listen to the man with the B.S. plan". Sound advice at any time. Set to a rollicking boogie and the Strat sounding sweet on one of those between pickup slightly out of phase settings.

Don't Take That Road

A nice lumpy shuffle with some Freddie King type twanging. Freddie beams down from his picture on the wall - I think he approves.

La Mauvaise Herbe

Years back me and Lou Martin did a short duo of Northern Europe. La Mauvaise Herbe was a friendly club we played in Belgium - a good place to sample obscure Belgian beers. I wrote a song afterwards, with words, but this is the instrumental version. To me, the music takes me to a stormy night on some Caribbean island, but I've no idea why. I like it though.


Yes, Robert Johnson's "Come on in my Kitchen" slightly rocked up with some revised lyrics. Well it's not actually illegal you know. And I think this version has a sort of light naivety about it which is appealing (to me at least). It always brings to my mind Kenneth Williams' immortal "Bix Spiderthrust" the young and hopeful blues wannabee from N'Awlins. But that will probably mean nothing to you and maybe that's as it should be. The electric slide is on my old Satellite solid electric - an example of which I recently saw on sale for 400.. apparently becoming collectable these days. Maybe it was a mistake for me to take a jig saw to the headstock. Ah well.. it does look better this way.

Mountain Road

We recently played a show in the town of Mostar, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We were picked up from Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia and driven across the mountains using the back roads to avoid the motorway. It was a lonely trip through desolate scenery as the sun went down, and our driver Amer told us a lot about the recent conflict as we passed through various villages, some still showing signs of war damage from 20 years ago. The gig was great and we were shown tremendous hospitality by the people of Mostar. The motto of the festival was "Playing for Peace - Bringing the Love". I found the experience very moving. So here's a verbal snapshot of that trip - I hope it doesn't make light of a tragic situation. The music is my idea of funk with the bent frets once again making the musical ride interesting!

Still Be Mine

During the making of this record I purchased a little Epiphone Les Paul Junior, for the wonderfully neat and sensible price of 99. It's about twenty years old and has one big black P90 pickup on it, so it is in many ways similar to the Gibson SG Junior that I used on the very first Killing Floor album back in 1969. So the first thing I thought was "can I recreate that guitar sound?" Well I had a go. Didn't quite make it, but the Epi certainly has some bite and is a lot of fun to play. The track is a kind of Muddy Waters pastiche - a riff here, a lyric there. Anyway, it rocks and I like it.

Hat Rack

Funky little instrumental, with my Epiphone 335 taking the lead. No excuse for the title, other than that I think you could toss your bowler onto a hat stand in time to the riff - do try it.

Leaning To the View

A kind of Mississippi (Surrey)? hill country blues inspired feel, with an optimistic lyric and some raucous guitar. A little untogether but I think that's as it should be.

Amazon.Com 5 Star Review ***** by 6 String Guy
Excellent raw blues guitar!!!

Mick Clarke has done it again with another fantastic blues release. It seems that he has found a source of magic mojo juice that is unique and powerful and it is driving his music to new heights. 13 tracks with a super tight band and the guitar grinding and surging across it all. I dont think there is anyone else doing what Mick Clarke has come up with in his recent releases. Maybe it could be described as RL Burnside meets Howling Wolf meets Little Joe Washington with the amps turned up to max levels. The guitar is so raw and gets down deep in your soul so that you will have a hard time moving on to other music. You have been warned! You like blues guitar? You need this. Today.....right now. And while you are at it buy his last disc Diggin Down which will knock you flat. Mick Clarke is on fire! Highly recommended.

Blues Matters! Magazine

Ive been a fan of Mick Clarke for many years, ever since his time in bands like Killing Floor and SALT. Hes an authentic UK blues guitarist who has certainly paid his dues. In more recent times he has been putting out albums that he basically records in his home studio playing virtually everything himself.

This is the latest one and this quote from the sleeve notes sets the tone better than anything I could pen. The Bent Frets of the title are on my Squier Stratocaster which I've been playing slide on since the 80s. On this album I decided to try it as a regular tuned guitar for normal type lead guitar and put a set of regular strings on. What makes this guitar unusual is that as I've been playing slide on it for all these years, the frets are completely mangled. The metal slide has worn a groove in the side of the neck and battered the frets into hairpins. So bending a note is challenging. No smooth ascent, more of a kind of d-d-d-d-bbrring!! Notes actually disappear and reappear of their own volition or change pitch without warning. It's very interesting.

It certainly is! The thirteen tracks here include covers of Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Pearly Brown and Tarheel Slim but this is no old fashioned tribute to old bluesmen but a down and dirty raucous celebration of raw blues. The album kicks off with rocking instrumental Daddy-O leading into the Patton cover, Spoonful Blues, and the Tarheel one Number Nine Train that has a high energy rockabilly vibe going on. The Brown cover is the gospel tinged Mean Old World that works brilliantly with the burning Strat on board. La Mauvaise Herbe is another instrumental that leads nicely into the Johnson cover, Kitchen. By no means an exact cover you understand but brilliant non-the-less. Mountain Road is slightly funky track that builds great imagery as does Still Be Mine. Hat Rack is another instrumental and closing track Leaning To The View a kind of Burnside-esq Hill Country Blues.

All in all another cracking Mick Clarke album that long time fans will love.

Amazon.Com 5 Star Review ***** by 20DollarBill from Rorysfriends.de!

- Google Translation:
Mick Clarke should know one .. he is a British veteran of blues rock .. he already has with his band Killing floor 1969 together with Lou Martin (Pianoman with Rory Gallagher) and Rod D 'Ath (drummer with Rory Gallagher) the big Freddie King accompanied on his tour through England, so Mick knows how to do it!
For me, Mick Clarke is one of the big ones from the British blues scene, he plays a very strong Gibson SG without much frills for it with a lot of pressure and he is a gifted slide player the song "Kitchen" is the proof !!
His voice is very distinctive and fits in well with his 9 own compositions that are always in blues, they are about love, suffering and joy!
He will play at the big Sweden-Rock Festival in June 2018, should he ever play in Germany you will hear it from us under "Concert Tips"!
There are 5 great blues rock stars for his new album, the recordings should not be missing in any blues budget !!
Have fun

Stevo's Album Tip - Total Kit Car

Thanks for letting me know that youve been enjoying these fun, little album tips. They are intended to bring you some great music often, admittedly, of a crunchy guitar blues-rock variety including some stuff that you may not have heard before, or even forgotten about, while also being easy to find on Apple Music or Android equivalent.
This week its the blues guitarist, Mick Clarke that comes under our spotlight and his new for 2018 album Bent Frets, which features plenty of the Londoners trademark fine playing with standout tracks for me being Daddy-O, If You Really Mean It, and Hat Rack. A fine album and up to Clarkes usual standard of Stratocaster-goodness

Blues Magazine, Netherlands - Jarl Westerouen van Meeteren

Mick Clarke has become a regular guest at Blues Magazine. Last year I wrote a review about his penultimate album 'Diggin' Down 'and several reviewers were there for me.
In fact, this album 'Bent Frets' is a sequel to his album released last year, the same design and the same way of recording. In a conversation I had with him in connection with the release of his new album, he told me that all songs were written by himself, the instruments such as guitars, bass, keyboards and drums were played by himself, but that he had chosen the drums. for a mix of a real drum kit and samples, so absolutely no drum machine or programmed drum. He found the most difficult thing to mix, which is why he said jokingly: "If something is not good about this album, then it was my own mistake." The recordings took place in his own studio Rockfold in Surrey, England. He only left the mastering to a professional.

He made his most recent albums fantastic: "It's my job, my hobby and my therapy."
That the man has a lot of experience can be heard clearly and is also evident from his biography. At the end of the sixties, the heyday of the British 'blues boom', he started playing in the band Killing Floor. This band accompanied well-known blues legends like Freddie King, Howlin 'Wolf, Otis Span and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. They released two albums that now have a cult status and are among the twenty best British blues albums between 1967 and 1970. In 2003 the band reunited for studio recordings and tour projects and play to date on the important European blues and rock festivals.
In the early eighties he started the Mick Clarke Band, which was especially popular in and around London, but soon they received offers from Europe and America.
He also performs a lot; in America much with the late Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Foghat and C.J. Chenier. He now belongs to one of the regular, important names that regularly tour in Europe, Asia and America. In 2014 he received the 'Best International Act' Award for his distinctive 'straight from the wood' guitar playing.
This year he is (at least) in June at the Sweden Rock Festival with headliners such as Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne. The number of solo albums by Mick Clarke is currently at nineteen!
This album 'Bent Frets' is also characterized by a raw, vicious way of playing. In my opinion, even slightly stronger than his previous album, hence the title probably. Thirteen songs, some of which are instrumental, which should preferably be listened to with some volume in order to come into their own. Very diverse, a lot of variety, clearly produced and always fascinating. One of the highlights is the instrumental song La Mauvaise Herbe, a slow blues played with so much feeling that cuts right through your heart.
For those who already know Mick Clarke this album is definitely an asset, for the debutants among us a very pleasant first acquaintance.


Mick Clarke is inmiddels een vaste gast geworden bij Blues Magazine. Vorig jaar schreef ik een review over zijn voorlaatste album Diggin Down en meerdere recensenten gingen mij voor.

In feite is dit album Bent Frets een vervolg op zijn vorig jaar uitgebrachte album, dezelfde opzet en dezelfde manier van opnemen. In een gesprek dat ik met hem had in verband met het uitbrengen van zijn nieuwe album, vertelde hij dat alle nummers zelf geschreven zijn, de instrumenten zoals gitaren, bas, keyboards en drums door hemzelf gespeeld, maar dat hij wat betreft de drums gekozen had voor een mix van een echt drumstel en samples, dus absoluut geen drummachine of geprogrammeerde drum. Het lastigste vond hij het mixen, vandaar dat hij gekscherend zei: als er iets niet goed is aan dit album dan is het mijn eigen fout geweest. De opnames vonden plaats in zijn eigen studio Rockfold in Surrey, Engeland. Alleen het masteren heeft hij aan een professional over gelaten.

Het maken van zijn meest recente albums vond hij fantastisch om te doen: het is mijn werk, mijn hobby en mijn therapie.

Dat de man enorm veel ervaring heeft is duidelijk te horen en blijkt ook uit zijn biografie. Eind jaren zestig, de hoogtij dagen van de Britse blues boom, begon hij te spelen in de band Killing Floor. Deze band begeleidde bekende blues legendes als Freddie King, Howlin Wolf, Otis Span en Arthur Big Boy Crudup. Twee albums brachten zij uit die inmiddels een cult status hebben en behoren tot de twintig beste Britse blues albums tussen 1967 en 1970. In 2003 kwam de band weer bij elkaar voor studio opnames en tour-projecten en spelen tot op heden op de belangrijke Europese blues en rock festivals.

Begin jaren tachtig startte hij de Mick Clarke Band die vooral populair was in en rond Londen, maar al snel kregen zij aanbiedingen uit Europa en Amerika.

Solo treedt hij ook veel op; in Amerika veel met wijlen Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Foghat en C.J. Chenier. Hij behoort inmiddels tot een van de vaste, belangrijke namen die regelmatig touren in Europa, Azien Amerika. In 2014 ontving hij de Best International Act Award voor zijn kenmerkende straight from the wood gitaarspel.

Dit jaar staat hij (in ieder geval) in juni op het Sweden Rock Festival met headliners als Iron Maiden en Ozzy Osbourne. Het aantal solo albums van Mick Clarke staat momenteel op negentien!

Ook dit album Bent Frets kenmerkt zich weer door een rauwe, venijnige manier van spelen. Naar mijn gevoel zelfs iets steviger dan zijn vorige album, vandaar de titel waarschijnlijk. Dertien nummers, waarvan enkele instrumentaal, die bij voorkeur met enig volume beluisterd dienen te worden om goed tot hun recht te komen. Heel divers, veel afwisseling, helder geproduceerd en steeds boeiend. Een van de hoogtepunten is het instrumentale nummer La Mauvaise Herbe, een slow blues met zoveel gevoel gespeeld dat het recht door je hart snijdt

. Voor degenen die Mick Clarke reeds kennen is dit album zeker een aanwinst, voor de debutanten onder ons een bijzonder aangename eerste kennismaking.

International distribution to wholesalers through BGO Records www.bgo-records.com
Copyright Mick Clarke 2018

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