They say you can’t keep a
good man down. The same goes for Kurt Neumann. Neumann’s
most recent album under the Bodeans
moniker is a pure delight. Neumann
is the only one left from the original lineup, but he keeps chugging along as a
prolific writer and musician. I Can’t Stop contains a dozen original
tracks which just gets better with each listen.
Neumann leads the album off “Slave”.
Thick swampy blues-soaked slide guitar licks
which ride atop a cool tribal beat makes this one sound so good. “Oh Mama”, “Roll With the Punches”, and “Yesterday”
capture that slightly poppy rocking Bodeans
sound oh so elegantly. Songs like these
are what made me a Bodeans fan in
the first place. Emotions run deep in the beautiful and melancholy break-up
song “Beg or Borrow”. Accompaniment from the Junkyard Horns is an added bonus. “Something We Found” rolls out like a pop-infused
folk rock Mumford and Sons tune. This catchy-as-hell
song is quick to put a grin on my face.
I Can’t Stop
is rapidly becoming not only one of my favorite Bodeans albums, but one of my favorite albums this year.
For a short three-month stint
in 1967, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
consisted of future Fleetwood Mac
members, Peter Green, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood. Because a
devoted fan from Holland was ballsy
enough to sneak a one track reel-to-reel recorder into five different clubs in
London to record a handful of shows, we are blessed to hear the magic which
took place when these four musicians took the stage. Keeping in mind, this was recorded in mono,
from a hidden tape recorder; the results are consistent with most bootleg
recordings from that era. Live in 1967 gives us thirteen sweet
blues-smothered tracks to chew on.
The Bluesbreakers break out a little briefcase of blues featuring Freddie King songs : “Have You Ever
Loved a Woman”, “The Stumble”, “Someday After Awhile”, and “San Ho Zay”. Peter
Green kills it on guitar covering these.
It’s just downright cool to hear him rip into “The Stumble”. This is blues guitar at its finest. The opening riff on “San Ho Zay” is so lush; I
wish it could have been recorded off a board.
I love their performance of T Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday”. This one puts me in my bluesy space
immediately. Mayall on vocals and
organ guides this one from start to finish with a delicious guitar performance
from Green. This is what music is all
about, right here.
and Fleetwood Mac fans are sure to enjoy
this historical bluesy treat.
Chicago blues masters The Cash Box Kings return again to
serve up a nice and healthy dose of classic-sounding blues on their new album, Holding Court. Stomping through the decades, they seem very
at home playing in the musical styles prevalent during the Thirties through the
Fifties. Joe Nosek, and Oscar Wilson
continue to front the band, and it absolutely pleases me to see Barrelhouse Chuck back on piano/organ, as
well drummer Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith
sitting in on three tracks.
down the harmonica, and Joel Paterson
delivers great twangy licks on lead guitar while kicking things off with the Willie Dixon cover, “I Ain’t Gonna Be
No Monkey Man”. They also nail down a
sweet cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Hobo
Blues”. Paterson plays it nice and slow.
The Cash Box Kings certainly have a knack for bringing current issues to light in their
lyrics. “Download Blues”, written by Nosek, documents the monetary hardships
musicians face these days because of illegal downloading on the back of a common
devil-may-care attitude about sharing copyrighted material. Whereas “Gotta Move
Out to the Suburbs” is a commentary about folks living in the inner city, being
pushed out of their homes, to make way for expensive high-rises and skateboard
parks. Both are favorites.
It’s so nice to hear the Blues
presented in the unadulterated manner The
Cash Box Kings meticulously perform it.
Holding Court is true gem.
If you’ve listened to the
music of Sharon Jones, you most
likely have heard Saun & Starr. Last year, I was fortunate enough to catch Jones in concert, and remember being
bowled over by the exquisite harmonies of backing vocalists, Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan- Lowe , aka Saun & Starr. They
made quite the impression then, and they make a tremendous impression now with their
stellar performances on their debut album, Look
Closer. To top it all off, the Dap-Kings perform on this new record, drizzling
their familiar funky soul on every song, in the Daptone style, and I
Title track, “Look Closer
(Can’t You See the Signs?) ushers the listener in with an up-beat
dance-friendly rhythm guided by a buttery bassline served up by Bosco Mann. When I hear the bouncy
beats and soulful vocals on “Hot Shot”, I’m immediately taken back to the early
music of the Jackson 5. I just love the way this song was written and
performed. Whereas “Another Love Like
Mine”, with is restless funk and echo-laced guitar effects, seems to draw in a
little more inspiration from the late great Isaac Hayes.
Every time I hear the
infectious grooves of “Big Wheel”, I can’t help but get a big ol’ smile on my
face. Like Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff”, this track takes a soulful approach
to calling out tricksters and scoundrels in wolves clothing. Another fun little track, “Dear Mr. Teddy”, happens
to take awkward situations to a new level. This is the kind of song that sounds
best on a rainy day. Saun & Starr close the album out
with a light-hearted ditty about communication breakdown, “Blah Blah Blah Blah
Blah Blah Blah”. I like the cool little jabs Victor Axelrod lays down on the organ and the Steve Cropper-flavored guitar riffs from Binky Griptite. This is such
a smooth song.
is a sheer delight. It’s the best soul
album I've heard this year.
The latest album, Old School Thang from Billy Hector is slathered in blues and
quite the listen. Hector dishes out his songs in a variety of formats, ranging from
traditional and swampy, to trans-blues.
“She’s Gone”, a great track
to open with, grabs me with the smooth Santana-influenced
guitar licks. It sounds so good,
especially with the accompaniment by David
Nunez on organ, and the horn section made up of Tommy Labella and Steve
Jankowski. Hector breaks out the big guns and totally nails down a cover of Don Nix’s “Goin’ Down” in a tribute to Freddie King. The musicianship is nothing less than phenomenal. This is what the blues is all about. I love the funky rhythm on title track, “Old
School Thang”. If Prince decided to cross over to the blues, I think this is very
close to what it would sound like. I have
to mention the awe-inspiring drums provided by Sim Cain, which made me think of the late great Chuck Ruff who played drums on the iconic
song, Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein”.
“Rita”, a despairing and
tragic tune which seems to fall in the same wheelhouse as the music of Tom Waits, has a nifty way of getting
stuck in my head. For the finale, Hector closes out “People of the World”,
a tasty treat full of groovy jams coated with organ and horns. Funky repetitive grooves reminiscent of the
trans-blues music of Otis Taylor,
keep this one going for eight minutes.
Every song on Old School Thang is a winner. This album comes highly recommended.
There’s just not that many
places left that capture the history and sanctity of Rock and Roll as much as
the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake,
Iowa. That’s why watching the Boxmasters, play live in this chapel of
rock, made for an absolutely perfect night for soaking up the wonderful music
and the fantastic stories that go with them, as sung and told by front man Billy Bob “Bud” Thornton. The Boxmasters
are: Thornton, co-founder/guitarist J.D. Andrew, guitarist Brad Davis, and keyboardist extraordinaire
Teddy 'Zig Zag' Andreadis.
The band, all sporting
Liverpool Beatles suits, took the stage, kicking the evening off with a rocking
performance of “Emily” off Thornton’s
2003 Solo album, The Edge of the World.
I love that classic western sound Davis squeezes out of his guitar on “Providence”. Davis
grabs my full attention again in “Beautiful”.
He’s such a fantastic guitarist.
a really down-to-earth and heartfelt moment, discussed how much of an honor it
was to be playing at the Surf. His honesty and sincerity was felt by
everyone. The band then tore through
nine consecutive songs off their latest release, Somewhere Down the Road. It
was so cool to hear the new tracks “Sometimes There’s a Reason”, “This Game is
Over”, and “Kathy Don’t Share”. Immediately
following a brief spoken-word introduction from Thornton explaining how religion is a good thing, unless it gets in
the hands of the wrong people, Andreadis
starts “Piece of the Sky” on his Hammond in a performance fit for Sunday morning
After asking the audience about
their thoughts on political correctness and profanity, Thornton indeed got their blessing to play an explicit song or two. It was so fun to hear the rarely played tongue-in-cheek
song, “I’ll Give You a Ring” (when you give me back my balls), from their
A request from the audience
for a song from the late great Warren
Zevon prompted Thornton to reminisce
about his good friend. He explained they
had met each other at the mail box, while living in the same apartment building. They ironically got to talking about a common
trait they both suffer from, obsessive compulsive disorder. The Boxmasters
then broke into a Zevon-esque
written song, “I Shot Him Down”. “Island
Avenue”, a song off the album, The Edge
of the World, and written by Thornton’s
brother Jimmy was a jam-filled treat. After an intense and funky keyboard solo from
Andreadis on the Hammond, the band played
tight as hell. This was rock and roll at
its finest. “Hope and Glory”, the last
song of the set was dedicated to everyone who was in the military or had lost
someone in war. From Thornton’s vocals to Davis’s killer guitar, the band in
general just gels so nicely.
For an encore, the Boxmasters returned to stage in a
slightly different configuration, featuring Andreadis this time, on harmonica, and Thornton sporting a tambourine. With a beat similar to the Ramone’s “Blitzkrieg Bop”, they kick in
“Love is Real Tonight”, followed by a rendition of “That Mountain” which was so
good, it sent chills up my spine. In a cutting heads fashion Andreadis and Davis went toe to toe, harp vs. guitar. It was such an amazing performance to end this stellar show with.
For almost two solid hours, I
hung on every note played and every word sung. This show will certainly go down
in my history book as one of my favorite concerts.