Watch cult Rhythm and Blues band Nine Below Zero perform ‘Don’t Play That Song’ live

“One of the best blues bands in Britain”, cult Rhythm and Blues band Nine Below Zero release tribute to the blues in new album: 13 Shades of Blue, debuted at Glastonbury. 

Since their formation in 1977 NINE BELOW ZERO have developed a reputation as one of the best blues bands in Britain. Their high energy live act was already well established by the time they signed to A&M RECORDS in 1980 and was forever captured on their classic live album 1980’s Live At The Marquee.

New album 13 Shades of Blue features the original members of the band: Dennis Greaves (guitar and vocals) Mark Feltham (harmonica and vocals) Mickey Burkey (percussion) and Bryan Bethell on bass (as well as touring bassist Ben Willis) who handpicked the best of a cross section of styles that come under the heading of Blues and R’n’B for the album. The album opens with the grooves of ‘Don’t Lay Your Funky Trip on Me’ made famous by Señor Soul. Such is the diversity of Blues, Dennis Greaves only found out who wrote the song after he “walked into a bar and heard the track playing in the background and thought, this is great who is it? So I got my phone out which has the app SHAZAM and found out it was Señor Soul a band that would soon become War.  War were famous for a track called Low Rider and featured the Harmonica player Lee Oscar. I thought this is a perfect start to a new project: Best of the Blues by Nine Below Zero taking in all the shades the Blues offers. The next move was to start a playlist on Spotify and to share it with the band, so began 13 Shades of Blue.”

 It’s obvious Nine Below Zero have done their research on the wide variety of Blues sub-genres that exist.  Album closer Paper in My Shoe by Boozoo Chavis exemplifies this with its Zydeco and Cajun influences. It wasn’t just Nine Below Zero who did their research. Squeeze member Glenn Tilbrook (whose 45 RPM studio was used to record the album, and who features on That’s What Love Will Make You Do playing the Sitar Guitar) had also rang Dennis and said, “I’ve just heard a track on the radio that Nine Below Zero would murder. It’s called Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) by Aretha Franklin, you’ve got to do it.” The Nine Below Zero version features guest vocals from Charlie Austen who walked into a Blues night Dennis hosts and asked to sing. “She sang Stormy Monday and the whole place stopped in their tracks and were blown away by her performance”. On all of the tracks on the album the sound of the 4-piece band is augmented by the addition of a horn section, keyboards, violin and backing vocalists to create an exciting new NBZ BIG BAND sound.

 “one of the finest R and B acts around” – Louder Than War

 Speaking about how the project came about, Dennis Greaves said it was at: “a warm-up gig for Universal’s release of their back-catalogue at The Blues Kitchen. In the audience was good friend of the band and Universal’s catalogue man Johnny Chandler, who was responsible for putting out the deluxe versions of Live At The Marquee, Don’t Point Your Finger and Third Degree. Having seen the storming show at The Blues Kitchen he said ”you should do a Best Of album”. By this, he meant go through the full spectrum of The Blues picking rare songs in the style of RnB, Soul, Funk, Blues and Cajun and record them in your own NBZ style. “With your musicianship Nine Below Zero can do this” he said. So with the help of Johnny’s vast knowledge, having been a DJ and my use of Spotify, YouTube and my vinyl collection, we started to compile a play-list together. We then formed a big band, made up of friends and local musicians, to help us bring the songs to life. The fruits of this labour is 13 Shades of Blue”. After a live debut on the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury 2016, the Nine Below Zero Big Band will be embarking on a 30 date tour to support the album.

Singer/guitarist Dennis Greaves formed Stan’s Blues Band in 1977 with school friends, then recruited harmonica maestro Mark Feltham who lived on the same Peabody Estate in Tulse Hill, South London. “I thought we were the only people playing blues, but when we got on the circuit I discovered there were other bands out there”, Greaves remembers. “There was Red Beans And Rice, The Blues Band, The Little Roosters, The Inmates, Dr Feel good – it was quite a big thing.” Changing their name to Nine Below Zero in 1979 and signing to A&M Records, they released their classic live set Live At The Marquee. The Glyn Johns-produced Don’t Point Your Finger followed in 1981 as well as an appearance on BBCTV’s The Old Grey Whistle Test. Their last album before splitting, Third Degree followed in 1982,the band promoting single Eleven Plus Eleven on the first episode of hit comedy The Young Ones. Greaves reformed Nine Below Zero in 1990 with Feltham, who left in 1992 but rejoined in 2001. They are still an incendiary live act as those who witnessed their 2014 show at the ‘100 Club for The Blues‘ second birthday can attest, and all that listen to 13 Shades of Blue can attest it is a fitting and accurate tribute to the Blues.



  1. Don’t Lay Your Funky Trip On Me (Dickerson/Miller/Brown/Scott/Oscar/Jordan
  2. Watch What You Do To Me (Hodges/Mitchell/Randle)
  3. That’s What Love Will Make You Do (Campbell)
  4. Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) (Ertegun/ Nelson)
  5. It’s Your Voodoo Working (Sheffield)
  6. You’re Still My Woman (King/Clark)
  7. The Toddle (Jacobs)
  8. I’m Gonna Keep What I’ve Got (Moore)
  9. Crawling Up A Hill (Mayal)
  10. I Want To Know (Badger / Desanto / Geddins)
  11. My Woman Is Good To Me (Sonny)
  12. Hercules (Toussaint)
  13. Paper In My Shoe (Chavis/Shuler)


13 Shades of Blue Tour 2016/17

30th Sept          The Mill, Banbury 01295 279002

1st   Oct           Pizza Express, Maidstone   01622 683548

7th    Oct           West End Centre, Aldershot  012452 408040

8th    Oct           Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth  023 9286 3911

14th Oct            The Phoenix, Exeter 01392 667080

15th Oct            The Fleece, Bristol   0117 945 0996

21st   Oct           Brudenell Social Club, Leeds   0844 249 1000

22nd Oct           The Arc, Stockton  01642 525199

29th Oct            The Horsebridge, Whitstable  01227 281174

4th Nov             Under the Bridge, London  0844 249 1000

10th Nov           Norwich Arts Centre 01603 660352

11th Nov           The Concorde, Brighton  0844 249 1000

19th Nov           The Ruby Lounge, Manchester 0844 249 1000

26th Nov           The Kevin Thorpe Blues Night, The Elms Notts

2nd Dec             The Electric Palace, Bridport   01305 426 336

3rd Dec             The Globe, Cardiff   07590 471888

8th Dec             The Junction, Cambridge 01227 511511

9th Dec             Greystones, Sheffield    0114 266 5599

10th Dec           The Musician, Leicester  0116 251 0080

17th Dec           Ripley Blues Club, Ripley, Yorkshire


27th Jan            The Mirren at The Towngate, Basildon  01268 465465

24th Feb           The Flowerpot, Derby 01332 204955

3rd Mar             The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne Minster 01202 885566

4th Mar             The Stables, Milton Keynes  01908 280800

10th Mar          The Robin 2, Wolverhampton  01902 497860

11th Mar          Windelsham Theatre, Windelsham  07903 462636

17th Mar          The Bullingdon, Oxford  01865 434998

18th Mar          The Citidal, St Helens  01744 735 436

24th Mar          The Cluny, Newcastle  0191 230 4474

25th Mar          King Tuts, Glasgow   0141 221 5279

Nine Below Zero

’13 Shades of Blue’

Album release: 30th September 2016

Label: Zed Records

Twitter @NineBelowZero1 Instagram @ninebelowzero

About David Farrell

General Manager and 'THE' competition guy at Manager of The Goddanm Electric, Tour manager for Serpentine, and ex-general Dogsbody at Media partner to numerous bands. Also takes photos, writes reviews and likes classic rock, with a touch of thrash to get the blood flowing.