Whiteboy James And The Blues Express
www.ripcatrecords.com www.whiteboy james.com
Rip Cat Records 2011 release of Whiteboy James and the Blues Express’ new CD, “Extreme Makeover”, is a very exciting project. Having been around the West Coast blues scene in the 1980”s and 90’s this band carries on in the styles of Rod Piazza, James Harmon, Hollywood Fats and William Clarke. The Blues Express Band with James has a really big sound and feel to their music presentation. After an absence from the music scene the band reformed with a different bass player and drummer. “Extreme Makeover” is a new rendition of the band’s debut album from 1992. This CD features Whiteboy James on harp and vocals, Scott Abeyta playing guitar, Blake Watson on bass and Max Bangwell. This is an appropriate name for a drummer.
This recording contains a varied mix of 10 tunes penned by Whiteboy James plus “I’m Ready” from Willie Dixon and “Stay Out Late At Night from I. Turner. This is really a good mix of tunes with something for everyone. Right out of the wrapper we get treated to an example of James’ harmonica skill on “Big Butted Women”. He has that electric blues tone and phrasing that defines the blues harmonica. Abeyta’s guitar work also stands out on this tune. The Blues Express band carries with it a big rich blues sound that is very ear grabbing. WB James’ lyrics on “Big Butted Women” are of that racy type that gets your attention right now. James is telling the story as he wants it told. This track does a fine job of showcasing Abeyta’s guitar playing as well as having James doing a great job with his harp solo. Good tune.
“Gold Brick Box” is one of my favorite tracks to listen to on “Extreme Makeover”. Scott Abeyta walks us into the tune with some powerful guitar playing and just continues doing so throughout the entire song. Here we have an example of Scott’s creative, none predictable solid guitar style. James’ vocals are full of a very confident swagger that will draw you into his lyrics on this track. “Slow Down And Let Me Love You” is another song that features WB James’ harmonica playing. Here we have some more real blues harp without any fluff and over playing. James’ ability to pen great lyrics along with the bands very solid blues sound makes real quality blues.
Whiteboy James And The Blues Express’ CD, “Extreme Makeover”, is an example of a fine recording that is upbeat and exciting. This project features a band that is not afraid to play the blues for us. With a solid bass line and drum beat backing James’ vocals and Abeyta’s guitar there are not any clunkers on “Extreme Makeover”. I do wish that WhiteBoy James would have added more of his harp playing. As the Willie Dixon tune goes, “I’m Ready”, ready to hear more of Whiteboy James And The Blues Express.
Reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis