Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Live at Blues on Grand reviewed by Harmonica Joe

Live at Blues on Grand
Reverend Raven
featuring Madison Slim
Nevermore Records
13 tracks/75:08

With a name like "Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys," you have to wonder what this band is all about. Well, with the CD "Reverend Raven Featuring Madison Slim Live At Blues On Grand" that question is answered. This CD is all about the blues.

Reverend Raven has brought together a very talented band. As the main driver of the band, Reverend Raven is the real deal with his awesome guitar style, large vocal presence, song writing ability and band leadership quality. The band features Madison Slim on the harmonica. Madison Slim is a harp player's want list fulfilled. He has the whole package going on as his tone and ability with both the high and low end is evidenced on every track. His deep feeling and depth take after the likes of Big Walter Horton and Slim Harpo. His interlocking play with the Reverend ties this whole CD together.

Spencer Panosh's drum talent is just outstanding on every track. He is always there but never annoying so it is a constant pleasure listening for the drummer. Spencer is a driving force behind this band. Bringing up the bass line is Andre Maritato's steady tempo setting style. He is a very tasteful bass player. This whole combination makes this a powerful blues band.

The CD is filled with a combination of tunes by Reverend Raven, Freddie King, Chester Burnett aka "Howlin' Wolf," Rice Miller aka "Sonny Boy Williamson" and Slim Harpo. With this being a live recording, you could expect overplaying and unnecessarily long solos by just about anyone but this is not the case here. The Reverend has control of this show. The vocals are all understandable and sung with feeling and dynamics. This is true with all the players.

"Please Let Me Explain" is one the the best tunes on the CD for me. Madison Slim does an awesome rendition of the Rice Miller tune. Also the Reverend's vocals and guitar licks make this tune a standout.

Reverend Raven's song writing abilities are shown off in three tunes on this disc. These songs are "Loving You," "I'm Your Honeyboy" and "Bee Hive Baby". "Bee Hive Baby" is a tribute to Slim Harpo. There is the vein of "Baby Scratch My Back" throughout this tune. Reverend Raven does some serious chicken scratching here along with Madison Slim's high end harp playing.

This is a recording for blues fans to get! You can also visit Reverend Raven at his web site at www.reverendraven.com. Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin" Altar Boys will be at Nino's Big Cities on March 31st. See you there.

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