Thursday, June 28, 2007

Painkiller reviewed by Steve Jones

Tommy Castro
Blind Pig Records
11 tracks/42:51

Tommy Castro is a soul rocker. Plain and simple. He approaches the blues from the rocking edge of soul, and his newest CD “Painkiller” continues in that vein and takes him to new levels of excellence.
The opening song’s initial riffs of “Love Don’t Care” wind you up, and get you to the top of the Castro roller coaster and then it’s non-stop rocking. “I’m Not Broken” is next and it’s off to the races. I think my favorite track is a bouncy number with a lot of horns called “Big Sister’s Radio.” It’s the story of how the tiny, tinny little transistor radio pulled in music from all over and exposed a generation to great music back in the late 50’s and the 60’s. It was not the big fancy stereo that people learned from but the little transistor radio in the evening, pulling in the AM radio waves from hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away. Having my own little transistor radio in my youth, this song brings back fond memories of searching for and finding some great tunes across the dial. It was so cool to find all the big radio DJs dishing out the platters. I almost feel for today’s MP3/Ipod generation; the download is pretty cool and amazing but I don’t think it compares to finding someone blasting out 50,000 watts of AM power with some rock-a-billy or soul tune playing. But I digress…
Castro struts his stuff and his fans will love this album. I think it surpasses most if not all of his CDs in song quality and performance. He’s got some great new material and the horn section just blows you away.
Tommy has a superb supporting cast on this album. In addition to his band mates of Randy McDonald (bass), Keith Crossan (sax) and Chris Sandoval (drums) there are also a lot of great supporting musicians who appear. Angeli Stehli provides exceptional support on vocals in the ballad “If You Believe (In What You Do),” one of only three slower songs on the CD. Coco Montoyo’s guitar and vocals blaze in a duet along with Castro on the hottest number on the CD “A Good Fool is Hard to Find.”
Castro is a hugely talented singer and guitar player who I think has often let his material hold him back in the past. This CD matches his talent with some great tunes, both new and reworked. Not only that, it melds all of this with his soul. rock and blues style into a wonderful CD with a set of tunes you can’t find fault with. I enjoyed this CD immensely and I think you will, too!

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