Ben Reel Band – Live at JJ Smyths (Dublin)

CD Review: Ben Reel Band – Live at JJ Smyths (Dublin)

by Antony Bailey for Country Music News International

  1. Darkness And The Light
  2. River Of Time
  3. What Is Done
  4. Feel Alive
  5. Heart Just Won’t Heal
  6. Before Your Time
  7. Could’ve Been
  8. One Of These Days
  9. Our Fathers Sins
  10. Who You Are?
  11. A Hard Day’s Night (Cover)
  12. All Soul’s Alive
  13. The Times They Are A Changin’ (Cover)
  14. Sweet Victory
  15. Cosmic Shifting
  16. This Is The Movie


Ben Reel and his band performed in 2013 at the once iconic blues and jazz venue JJ Smyths situated in Dublin, Ireland. It has now sadly closed its doors in recent years and Ben made the most of the lockdown period by spending a large part of his spare time mixing a live album from the JJ Smyths venue.

It has now since been unveiled and is available to download from multiple online platforms. The album contains some original classics that were released from some of his previous albums and coincides with the release of his ‘Darkness And The Light’s’ album which was also released at that time. Covers of ‘A Hard day’s Night’ by The Beatles and ‘The Times They Are A Changing’ by Bob Dylan also make it on to the live recording. The launch of the live album comes exactly eight years after it was initially captured on camera.

‘Darkness And The Light’ kicks off the concert in what feels more like a blues ballad. The Wah peddle draws its audience ever nearer to the song’s underlying meaning as it resounds and lingers in the memory of the listener. ‘River Of Time’ is captivating from start to finish. The switch in rhythm and style combined with the variation in dynamics makes for a true classic in the eyes of a musical connoisseur.

‘What Is Done’ serves as a pleasant reminder to those who needs it most in the sense that life can only be lived, and the past simply cannot be changed whether it is desired or not. The song encourages people to forgive themselves of their own sins and shortcomings because life is simply too short to live in fear, misery, and regret.

It contains an irresistibly sensual and suave live guitar solo that makes the listener want to put this on repeat. ‘Feel Alive’ provides an injection of pace and into the tempo and dynamics. ‘’You’re never free until you free your crazy mind/Can you feel our hearts are breaking all the time’’ serves as a reminder to those who need of some emancipation.

‘One Of These Days’ switches to a shuffle rhythm on the drums and includes a recurring melody played on the blues harp. The syncopation and alternation between a common and cut common rhythm provides more tension and musical flavour for one of the most enchanting tracks on the live record.

Classic renditions of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘The Times Are A Changing’ compliments the album by adding even more quality to what is already bound to be a classic for many Country and Blues listeners out there. The performance, although it is quickly approaching ten-years-old, is serving as a timeless classic at one of the most iconic music venues on Dublin’s music circuit. Consequently, this album will always serve its audience a heavenly slice of nostalgia and sentimentalism due to the venue no longer being in operation.

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