Handbagged - Russell Hill ( Maverick September 2011)

"Ecstatically executed to show how great they really are Fronted by Fiona McElroy this debut album is full to the brim with a particular quality which is difficult to encounter with contemporary blues band, and as long as Fiona’s the one standing in front of the microphone then this band is destined for great things. Consisting of nine songs, what it lacks in track length it more than compensates with quality over quantity, a prime example of this being Another Night. The immediate opening on piano instantly grabs you as it leads the band for a short time until Fiona arrives and seduces the listener to get up out of the chair and start to dance their troubles away. Only legendary band leaders can do that and, like Billy Cotton did with his orchestra, she does it so well. Any group which has stupendous band members need a leader and this comes in the form of Fiona and what a welcome introduction she gives to the uninitiated."

Handbagged - Review by Grahame Rhodes

Here's a great release from London-based five-piece, Big Mamma's Door, fronted by the engaging and sassy vocals of Fiona McElroy, who also wrote seven of the nine tracks on offer here – ably abetted by the always-superb guitar of Mal Barclay and sparkling keyboards of 'boogie king' Henri Herbert – both current members of The Cadillac Kings – the fine rhythm section being Rob Pokorny (drums) and John Culleton (bass).

Together they deliver a sound rooted in the classic r&b and swing of the 50s, all beautifully performed with solos kept to the minimum, and sound like a damn good time is being had by all – kicking off with the downright saucy title cut of “Handbagged”, driven by the guitar of Mal Barclay with a sort of “Shaking All Over” linspired lick, meeting some rockabilly Johnny Cash – and of course the smoky voice of the front lady, Fiona McElroy. The rolling piano of Henri Herbert fires up “A Little Mad About You”, with a nagging, incessant riff from Mal Barclay throughout the song.

The rumba of “Give It To Me” sees some splendid drumming from Rob Pokorny which gives this a New Orleans feel, with more sparks from Henri Herbert and Mal Barclay. The pace is taken down on “You Make It Easy”, a soulful 'torch' song, with sultry vocal from McElroy; followed by the rocking “Another Night” . . . with Henri Herbert kicking up a storm on piano, nicely driven by the unfussy rhythm section of Pokorny and John Culleton's bass.

The ballad of “Letting You Go” is another fine Fiona McElroy song, again in a soulful mode, with a touch of the great Etta James about it . . . quite lovely! “I Don't Even Care” is a Fats Domino-style stomper with all the band firing on all cylinders, again driven by the virtuoso playing of Mal Barclay and Henri Herbert. The closing two tracks are covers of songs by the great Barbara Lynn, the Beaumont, Texas-born singer/guitarist . . . the rocking “You're Gonna Be Sorry” and the equally-driving “We've Got A Good Thing Going” . . . both tailor-made for Fiona McElroy and the band.

A highly-recommended release, and as good as it is I would suggest this band will be best enjoyed live . . . . here's hoping they come our way!


Here is what people have been saying about BMD

"...and as for Big Mamma's Door, well sensational! Must have them on the main stage next year". BB Skone. Tenby Blues Festival “There's no question that the UK has a fine new crop of female singers who like to sing the blues, & rockin' rhythm & blues too…. having recently seen, in live performance, a band by the name of Big Mamma's Door, you can safely add Fiona McElroy”
Brian ‘Bunter’ Clark, UK Rock Magazine

"Fiona McElroy Whipped the crazy crowd into a clamour and is enjoyably more Etta James than Janis Joplin in her approach. Her gutsy vocals were matched by playful Irish banter between numbers. The crowd had no choice but to enjoy things enormously..."
David Atkinson, Blues in London

"London based Big Mamma's Door play their brand of Sexy 50's RnB with a whole lot of professionalism and love for the blues...the music is just top notch."
Bobjte, Bobtje Blues

"This is good old 50's proper Rhythm & Blues, not the soul-less heart-less pop of the 00's ; real blues with real rhythm...'Open For Business' by Big Mamma's Door is a slick and sensitively handled bunch of great songs - like an old friend come to stay and going over old stories but putting a new slant on them. A rich and rewarding eight track outing from a real honest-to-goodness blues band."
Peter Brown, toxicpete.co.uk

"This is an engaging and highly energetic band...the audience was wowed by the sheer personality of Fiona as a performer, the artistry of Mal on guitar and the musical excellence of the rest of the band."
Bill Smith, Blues in Britain

"Excellent band...her smoky/laid-back voice does the risqué blues-with-soul stuff with a vengeance."
Ian McKenzie, Blues in the South

Q: When you’ve got a band producing T-Bone Walker guitar sounds, keys ranging from barrel-house boogie to Hammond and a truly tight rhythm section, what more could be needed to play authentic and vibrant 1950’s music?

A: A fabulous, sassy lady at the front sensitively phrasing the melodies. Fiona McElroy fits the template as though specifically designed for her.
Blues Show Bob
GTFM Blues Show

Mal Barclay, highly respected guitarist on the blues scene is an integral part of BMD. He also plays with the Cadillac Kings and Oo-Bop-Sh'Bam. This is what they say about Mal:

'...always impresses ...his great combination of taste, touch, and tone lift tunes out of the ordinary and imbue a solid rectitude to proceedings'
[David Atkinson, Blues in London.]

'...a fabulous player with lovely retro feel and tone to his soloing and rhythm work'
[Grahame Rhodes, Chester Chronicle.]

'...wait til you hear THIS guy!!!'
[Blues in the Northwest.]

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'Alan in the front row tried to verbally take on Fiona saying that he could not understand her, he lost, you don’t take on a red headed Irish girl like that'....hahahaa... You've all been warned... a lil bit of a review, from our gig at The Bottleneck Blues Club, I wanted to share with you...:-)