SINCE their formation in 1977, Nine Below Zero have developed a reputation as one of the best blues bands in the country.

The band are bringing an electrifying blues performance to Bridport Electric Palace next month, on December 2 for the Palace’s last blues night of the year.

Nine Below Zero started life in South London during 1977, in the midst of the punk rock boom in England. But their sound and inspiration were so totally counterintuitive to what was going on in punk rock that they scarcely seemed to be part of that movement.

Rather than noise for its own sake or auto-destruction, their inspiration lay in classic Chicago blues (though John Mayall’s early music and that of the Who and the Kinks from early in their careers also figured into their sound).

Dennis Greaves (lead vocals, guitar), Peter Clark (bass), and Kenny Bradley (drums), soon joined by Mark Feltham on vocals and harmonica, were schoolmates and friends who shared a love of blues.

All had come into the world in the early 60s, and might well have resigned themselves to having missed the boat for the British blues revival by virtue of having been born in the midst of it.

Instead, they reached back to that era and found themselves pegged as part of the “mod revival” in the midst of the punk era.

More recently, last year saw Mark and Dennis’s first release as an acoustic duo, and the band return to Glenn Tilbrook’s 45 RPM Studios where they recorded their own versions of rare blues and soul tracks for inclusion on the album 13 Shades of Blue.

For this recording the band introduced a horn section, keyboards, violin and backing vocalists to create an exciting new big band sound.

Now reborn as an eight-piece big band, complete with horn section, Nine Below Zero have won the enthusiastic praise of the likes of Paul Jones and tickets to their gigs are still selling like hot cakes to blues fans.

With links to Squeeze and the Rolling Stones, Nine Below Zero have been name-checked as influences by popular rock ‘n’ roll upstarts The Strypes.

The new line up of Dennis Greaves (guitar/vocals), Mark Feltham (harmonica/vocals), Mickey Burkey (drums), Ben Willis (bass), Charlie Austen (vocals), Andrew Noble (keyboards), Chris Rand (saxophone) and Paul Jordanous (trumpet) made their live debut at Glastonbury Festival in June.

* Blues Night, Nine Below Zero, at the Electric Palace in Bridport on Friday, December 2 at 8pm.