“Big Al Whittle provided excellent entertainment with his distinctive voice and high quality guitar playing. It is a testament to his performance that the people who were there at the start of his act were still there at its completion. Al’s range of material ensured that all present had something which matched their tastes. The crowds’ final lengthy ovation said it all”
Gary Stacey Spondon Folk Club Organiser
"Alan Whittle has established himself as a first class singer songwriter that I would place alongside, his long time mentor, Derek Brimstone. Alan is a staunch supporter of the club circuit and festivals around the UK bringing wit, charm and outstandingly funny songs to his audience. He has transfixing lyrics that leave the audience with stitch from belly laughter! Alan has collected an enviable selection of songs and tunes over 25 plus years as a performer and what he delivers is an extraordinary memorable, experience. . If you have never come across Al's work then take a look at his latest CD at your earliest possible opportunity "Don't Act Stupid and Stop Acting Clever!" is an autobiography of the man himself....but taken from an angle that you just don't expect! Book him at your earliest convenience......."
Nick Ellis Loughborough Acoustic Club Organiser
As one of our best local artistes Alan has never failed to please. His sometimes quirky self penned songs can be both comical and moving, whilst his guitar work makes me want to chop my fingers off!
Pete Thom Mansfield Folk Club Organiser
The guest support was provided by Al Whittle: someone who seems to be a
small and a big man, both at the same time. To all intents and purposes, Al
has mastered the impression of a man fumbling about in a dark room looking
for a light switch: he'd had the switch in his hand once and it must be
around here somewhere. When he first puts his hands on the guitar you wonder
if he is going to maul it or crush it and then he starts to play: slowly,
sparingly at first, with the occasional run or lick, apparently taking the
guitar's measure, easing his way into an accompaniment that hints of jazz
and blues and that develops into an intricate, irresistible platform for a
short medley of standards. Of course, by the time he sings you are hooked.
His voice may be a rough and ready rumble at times but it doesn't matter, it
will never matter. Not only do you not mind but it seems to fit and by the
time he's finished you wish you could sing like that yourself. For openers,
you aren't expecting Al to be able to play at all, never mind have fingers
that can do a Fred Astaire on the fretboard and then you realise that that
roughish voice is not just singing but doing songs Fred Astaire himself
might have sung. By the time he offers one of his own compositions you are
completely disarmed and realise, far too late, that he has merely softened
you up for one of his sharp pieces of self deprecating, humorously
offensive, satires, delivered with all the glee of a naughty schoolboy who
has always known the way to the back of the bike sheds. His half hour was up
far too quickly and both the audience and Al seemed surprised at where the
time had gone. But then Al has perfected the art of seeming surprised - as
well as pleasing the audience. He may look like a man who shifts the scenes
during the interval but don't be fooled - he can steal them as well!
Neil Dalton – Virtually Acoustic Website reviewing a support slot at Willington Folk Club
BIG AL WHITTLE
ST PETER AND JOHN DILLINGER
Surprisingly stolid effort, complete with a few giggles, by country great.
I must admit to feeling a twinge of trepidation on first hearing the opening track, a dialogue between the Guardian of the Pearly Gates and the notorious bank robber, John Dillinger, who had been unceremoniously despatched to his maker by J Edgar Hoover’s FBI agents. Hoover had preceded Dillinger and somewhat surprisingly had been admitted into Heaven, where he now sat on a fluffy cloud, sporting a nice frock waiting for Dillinger’s arrival, so the two could form a cosy duo for all eternity. Lyrically quite hilarious, but the cause of concern was the apparent affected American accent, which was replaced by a Cockney one on the following track. George Joseph Smith, heavily laced with black humour as it recounted the dastardly deeds of the serial killer, hanged in 1915 for insuring the lives of a number of women whom he later drowned in the bath. The one thing, however which persuaded me to persevere with this offering was Whittle’s guitar playing. Crisp, clean, superbly textured, Whittle demonstrated his undoubted ability to tackle blues, ragtime, country, folk and jazz with equal ability, and by the time I had sat through all nineteen tracks, I returned to the title track with a completely changed attitude, played the entire album through again and enjoyed it far more than I imagined I could on first hearing.
Although Big Al has been around for many years, other things in life, including teaching have prevented him from turning to music more seriously. He released a cd titled DON’T ACT STUPID AND STOP ACTING CLEVER in 2003 had added some eight new tracks to this latest offering. His sense of humour is very much off the wall – as evidenced in self-penned numbers like Well Done Liz, Trish and The Big Red Sausage, - no doubt delivered to live audiences with a bland look of innocence while they make what they will of the innuendo. He looks back on his childhood rather more nostalgically in Grammar School Puppy Dawg and Swimming Pool, but mixed in with sometimes zany humour Whittle reveals his more serious side in compositions like Down and Out Blues, Owl Song, Telephone Song and a couple of others. He shows admiration for young servicemen who genuinely believe they are doing right in There is a place called America. Apart from an excellent rendition of Jelly Roll Morton’s Winding Boy, Pretty Baby by Tony Jackson, and the closing track, Roger Brooks’ The Apartment Song, Whittle takes responsibility for the writing of all the remaining songs.
As already stated Whittle is a talented guitarist. Many of his songs, though well constructed are somewhat quirky, but are certain to be received well in folk clubs. Vocally his voice is is perhaps a little gnarled and rough around the edges, but again, it suits his material. His album is available from his website and comes with notes on each song, again displaying Whittle’s wicked sense of humour. Despite my early reservation, should Big Al Whittle happen to appear in my area I would certainly make a point of catching his live show and I would suggest that those who favour folk, blues , ragtime and little jazz, well played and sung by a man who appears to bubble with merriment, might find that they too enjoy a good evening’s entertainment.
MAVERICK MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2005
Big Al Whittle “Don’t Act Stupid and Stop Acting Clever!” (Independent 2003) When you’re faced by something like this it’s difficult to know how to react - is this an idiot savant or just an idiot? The opening ‘George Joseph Smith’ tells the story of the mass murderer, the chorus of which is ‘drown her in the bath, drown her in the bath, coz I’m a psychopath’. Genius or lunatic, or both. ‘Big Red Sausage’ is a seaside postcard brought to life and ‘Swimming Pool’ is a disturbing tale of a 9 year old in lust/love. ‘Telephone Song’ proves he can do sad too - this record won’t bore you, and I smile every time I think about it. My guess is genius and lunatic. Available direct from Big Al himself for £7 inc p&p, phone 01773 812626.
Americana UK REVIEW
Big Al Whittle’s album Don’t Act Stupid and Stop Acting Clever is an essential post gig purchase. Big Al’s album continues in the honourable tradition of Frank Zappa and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band…sophisticated musical gags delivered with perfect timing.
Songbook Magazine Winter 2004
'One of the new acts to the competition was Big Al Whittle. His humorous delivery and smart guitar style perfectly complemented his clever song about his school days in Boston. Al was a big hit with the audience and thoroughly deserved his award of the Musicians Union performance prize.'.
Tom Lane BBC Radio Lincolnshire
Alan is a superb singer and guitar picker.
Malcolm Stent BBC Radio Birmingham
Alan has the sort of voice you’d think should take him straight to the top in Nashville, and he sure can play a guitar.
Paul MacKenzie BBC Radio Derby