Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heartless and The Best of BJ Allen & Blue VooDoo reviewed by Steve Jones

BJ Allen & Blue VooDoo
Pure Air Music
11 tracks

The Best of BJ Allen & Blue VooDoo
BJ Allen & Blue VooDoo
Circle M Music (Self-released)
19 tracks

As the holidays approached last year I got a call from BJ Allen, a blues singer from Kirksville, Missouri, about upcoming festivals and gigs.  She also agreed to send me some of her music with her band Blue VooDoo to listen to.  The 2010 compilation and her 2008 fourth studio dated 2008 (released in 2009) were the two I received and am reviewing here.  I must say they are a good little band and are led by an entertaining and talented singer.

The studio set is predominantly original stuff, ranging from ballady torch songs to hot and sizzling, rocking blues.  On the ballad side, tracks like the title track, “Sunday Kind of Love” and “Get It While You Can” show the sensitive side of her performances and they are quite nicely done.  She’s got an expressive voice and carries off these slower songs with great musicality and tone.  The hotter tracks like “Radio Song” and “Iron City” show BJ less restrained and accompanied by some mean harp by bassist JP Hurd and wicked guitar by Jerry Fuller (who also fills in on keys).   David and Derek Daniels respectively appear on drums and percussion.  Nicely done stuff that keeps moving and makes you want to tap your feet and even get up and dance.

The other compilation CD is a mix of songs from the first four albums, released from 2003 to 2009.  It begins with a hot number entitled “The Storm” from an album of the same name and ends with the soulful Schuman-Ragovoy cover “Get it While You Can” from “Heartless.”  It is an excellent mix of stuff and features almost half of the music released on Allen’s 4 CDs.  Allen belts out traditional like “Sittin’ On Top of the World” with equal aplomb as her original stuff, making covers and new material shine brightly.  Solid guitar work and some nice harp and piano punctuation aptly support Allen’s musical presentation.

Her 4 CDs are available and can be previewed on CD Baby, so you can check her and the band out yourself- don’t take my word for it.  What you will find is an excellent band with great sound, led by a very talented singer.  BJ Allen and Blue VooDoo are a band that people will remember when they hear them!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Delicious reviewed by Steve Jones

Kirsten Thien
Screen Door Records
13 tracks

Sultry, seductive, rocking, hollering, testifying, smoking hot- this CD runs the gamut of emotions and showcases the talents of this fine young artist.  Kirsten Thien’s third CD release is a superb album that ranges in influences from Ida Cox through Linda Ronstadt with some Church influence to Aretha Franklin and beyond.  Her R&B laden brand of blues was born on a German Army base, grew up in Maine listening to Linda Ronstadt and singing in a “Northern Baptist” church, and then was exposed the Aretha and New Orleans music  and the 1920’s blues singers in Georgetown at college.  After abandoning a career in banking, she set her sights on music and the Memphis sound.  Her vocals remind me a little of another red headed singer, the great Bonnie Raitt, but she is uniquely her own woman.

Thien gives us 11 songs (2 tracks are remixed for radio and reprised at the end of the CD) of which she wrote or had a hand in writing 8 of them.  Two of the covers are from Ida Cox and Willie Dixon.  Her rendition of Cox’ “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues” is stripped down with her on acoustic guitar and Memphis musician Billy Gibson in harp.  It is also included as a bonus video when you play the CD on a computer.  It is a powerful rendition that showcases her ample voice and talents.  The Dixon song evokes her sultry side as she snarls and wails about all the symbols of good and bad luck, again with less accompaniment- just guitar and drums are backing her.  The last cover is “Taxi Love”, a down and dirty number that is about what the title states.  Written by Charlie Feldman and Jon Tiven, Thein more than amply describes the backseat love affair of the song and allows the listener to enjoy her ride.

The title track is a breathy song that starts by likening her delicious love with her man to the apple in the Garden of Eden, but then tells us she is not singing about apples. Her vocals exude the flames of lusty lovemaking. “In “Treat ‘Im Like a Man” she tells how she will get her guy just by treating him like a man.  “Love That’s Made To Share” opens the set with Thein backed by the large cast of characters including Hubert Sumlin and a horn section.  It’s a bouncy and fun tune where she talks about the love she has that is made to share.  Sumlin also joins her on the lusty “Please Drive”, a down and dirty number where she describes the lust of a young girl “going for a ride” and asking her guy to, “Please drive”.  Love and love making seem to find their way into a lot of her songs, and she portrays it all quite well!

The tracks are hot, the vocals are even more smokin’ and the backing musicians know when restraint is best and when to let it all out.  This is a marvelous CD by a great singer and song writer.  Whether it be a stripped down track with just one or two people backing her or a song with big horn arrangements, the music evokes rawness and emotions.  Thien’s third CD make me want to run and check out her first two.  A most highly recommended album!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Little Sister Got Soul reviewed by Mark Thompson

Little Sister Got Soul
Andrea Marr
Amphead Music
10 tracks/41:23

Hailing from Australia, Andrea Marr wastes no time in displaying her vocal prowess on the opening track of her new recording.  She makes effective use of her husky voice on a storming run-through  of Dinah Washington’s “Soulville”, cutting loose with a piercing scream at the end. Next Marr switches to a sultry persona on “Steam Up the Windows”, featuring a fine sax solo from Sean Vagg.

The bluesy “I Prefer You” slows the pace but not Marr’s intensity as she spells out her feelings for the man of her choice. Greg Dodds contributes a potent guitar line and the horn section does a great job of framing Marr’s vocal. Some singers get over-powered by horns but Marr has plenty of power in her voice and seems to relish the challenge that the brass provides.

Marr had a hand in writing seven of the tracks and every one is a delight. On “Superwoman”, she leaves no doubt that she isn’t an ordinary woman and consequently requires an extraordinary man to keep her satisfied. Cam Scott’s organ injects a funky touch while his exciting horn chart borrows a line from the James Brown playbook. Marr mixes rock with a soul influence on “Taught Me to Love” with Vagg blowin’ another tough sax solo and Scott working hard on the piano keyboard in support of Marr’s sassy performance.

Glenn Kaiser’s “If I Leave This World Tomorrow” starts out with Marr testifying over Scott’s tasty piano work before Dodds’ guitar delivers a heavy lick that shifts the track from gospel territory into a strong blue-rock number with Dean Matters supplying the required big beat on drums and Clint Healey generating the fat bottom on his bass.  Marr proudly struts her stuff while singing the praises of her “Real Good Man”.  The pace doesn’t let up until the final track when Marr closes with a sassy rendition of “Baby Got Me Crazy”.

The horn section of Paul Williamson on sax, Shane Hughes on trumpet and Dave Palmer on trombone provide a spark on every track. Dodds tends to spend most of his solo space squeezing a lot of tortured notes out of his guitar without creating much real emotion.
As for Marr, she provides plenty of evidence that her 2009 Australian Blues award for Best Female Vocalist was well deserved. Once you listen to this recording, you will quickly realize that she has the talent to win more awards once she gets some exposure stateside. This one is an outstanding mix of blues and soul topped off with Andrea Marr’s awesome vocals. Don’t miss this one !!!

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

Eatin’ Dirt reviewed by Steve Jones

Eatin’ Dirt
Morry Sochat & the Special 20’s
Galaxie Records
12 tracks

This is a great, dirty sounding, swinging Chicago blues CD. Produced by Jimmy Sutton, the Special 20s have Dave Herrero, Billy Flynn, and Brother John Kattke joining them for their third CD. Producer Jimmy Sutton’s guitar also appears on the disc. If you took the CD and dropped it on the floor of a Harold’s Chicken Shack in Chicago I doubt it could get any greasier.  Hot stuff!

Sochat’s harp and vocals are pure Chicago South and West Side and could be from 40 or more years ago.  The deep and resonant sound layered over a bit of distortion and nasally quality to both harp and voice make this sound authentic and cool.  Ten new tracks and two covers make up this album.  Band guitar players Shoji Naito and Jim St. Marie are  true to the more minimalistic early Chicago style, where homage to spacing notes out is as important as the notes themselves.  Marty Binder is always solid on drums and Ted Beranis on the bass is just as solid.  Doug Corcoran and Chris Neal make up the horn section on trumpet and sax; Crocoran also does the keys.  A wonderful sound throughout!

From the opening title track to the mostly instrumental “Fried Chicken & Waffles” that closes the CD, the listener is taken on a swinging ride through the hot sounds of Chicago blues.  The tunes hearken back to old time blues yet have an air of newness to them.  Slow blues like “Yo-Yo” are equally appealing as the countdown to the moon rocket rides like “She’s a Betty”.

Flynn’s guitar is a noticeable presence on “Someone to Love” but it is perhaps Dave Herrero who offers the best on “Empty Pockets” where the guitar rings like a slow bell and wails oh-so-sweetly on this great track.  All in all, this is a solid CD and I recommend it to those who like the sound of good and greasy Chicago blues.

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Jus’ Desserts reviewed by Steve Jones

Jus’ Desserts
Tas Cru
Crustee Tee Records
11 tracks

Tas Cru is another of those artists that I’ve gone almost immediately from “who dat?” to “wow!” on.  A story telling singer and musician who warms you with his wit and charm and grabs you with his musical style, this Canadian artist is the real deal.  His vocals are real and warm and his guitar phrasing is well stated, with equal respect paid to the spaces between the notes as he pays to the notes themselves.  His harp work is also pretty damn good, too!

Cru wrote the entire album, 11 originals that comment on his life and society in general. The opener “Just Let it Happen” has a cajun sound that drips in its’ New Orleans gumbo of a groove.  He sings of letting things happen and letting them be to live a more satisfied life.  In “The Real Deal” he calls out all the blues wanna be’s who say they are working to keep the blues alive by trying too hard and not really feeling the blues and people who wave the blues flag but them push the blues back in the closet and push their more mainstream sound.  He slows it way down for the ballad “Time and Time” and shows us his soulful and sad side where he touchingly sings of his heart break.  “Glad to Be Alive” shows his style of electric guitar goodness to the max. In ”GPS Mama” Cru tells us how with technology he’s got a whole new problem with his woman since she can’t even find her way out of the shower; his dashboard tool  makes his backseat drivin’ woman even worse.  “Swing Doctor” shows us his boogie woogie side quite well.  He closes with “The Lucky Ones”, singing praises to his second chance in a life where he started as never being quite satisfied.

I’m sold on this guy- he has a set of really heart-felt lyrics and great tunes delivered in a great way.  Chip Lamson’s organs and keys are great. Andy Hearn is solid on drums as is Mike Lawrence on bass.  Jeremy Walz adds a tasteful slide on three cuts and plays lead on another pair of songs. A fine little band with a great little leader; Tas Cru is certainly “The Real Deal”!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Diamonds In The Dirt reviewed by David Stine

Diamonds In The Dirt
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Ruf Records
10 tracks/45:21 min.

The first time I played this disc, I absolutely hated it.  The second time I played it, I liked it--a lot. What changed? My perception. The first time I was listening for the blues and didn’t hear any. The second time, I just listened. What I heard was pretty good 70s rock.   So let me begin by saying, I think Ruf is WAY off the mark trying to throw this poor girl into the blues arena. No way is she even close to this genre. Her older brothers must have worn out the Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf records and left her with the Led Zeppelin, Free, and Wishbone Ash stuff, because that’s what I hear a lot of here.

Taylor wrote and plays guitar on all ten songs. She owes much to Jimmy Page in her style, but I hear glints of Free, Bad Company, and Wishbone Ash stuff. Oh, and some Maggie Bell. Taylor, who seems to be in her twenties, has a HUGE deep and raspy voice. She writes a pretty good song too. Her hooks are good. Her style isn’t too over the top, considering most of today’s guitar slinging blues players--BUT. It’s all mis-categorized. There are NO blues progressions; no blue “notes,” nothing to the ear that would lead one to think this was a “blues” CD. So what is it? Well, it’s a solo artist CD with a band mixed like they wanna rock. The guitar is mixed big, so are the drums, and so is the bass.  Ruf should send this girl to American Idol and let the fans fall where they may. She could tour with Daughtry or The Black Crowes, or even Stone Temple Pilots, but I don’t think she belongs on a blues stage, no matter how progressive the venue.

Taylor has a lot going for her: her writing, her playing and her hooks. But she is mis-cast as a blues performer. Her title cut, “Diamonds In The Dirt” has a Bonnie Raitt  “Luck Of The Draw” feel, and it’s followed by a tune titled “Let It Burn” which owes some of its existence to “the “Cold Shot” riff, but Taylor is still genre-less, to me. There are some Jimi Hendrix nods which follow that show she knows her axe. Is this a female guitar slinger’s only avenue? To be a blues singer when her heart’s clearly in early 70’s rock? Too bad.

Two ways to go Joanne: stay true to your muse and get away from Ruf and whoever told you to be a blues singer; OR nurture a love of the blues and let at least some of it infiltrate your soul. You have talent--a lot of talent--but old fuddy duddies like me (look who comprised blues societies around the world) won’t give you much of a chance. You’re WAY better off sticking to your guns and sending this disc to rock, or alternative radio/reviewers.

Reviewed by David Stine

Flyin' High reviewed by Steve Jones

Flyin' High
Various Artists
SWMAF Records
27 tracks

Who would have thought the R&B scene was a really hotbed in Phoenix, Arizona, in the '50's and 60's?  The Blazers' "Funky Broadway" is the only big southwestern R&B hit that came to mind from that era, and I recall that was more a Fort Worth, Texas band.  Apparently Phoenix was a big stopover for bands and performers going back and forth from Southern California to and from Texas. 

Many of the blues, R&B and gospel greats played there and many great local bands also sprang up and played the local clubs, too.  Bluesman Bob Corritore of Phoenix' Rhythm Room fame, with the assistance of "Johnny D" Dixon, took to Dixon's extensive collection from his musical vault and came up with these 27 released and unreleased songs highlighting the eras' R&B, gospel and early soul recordings. This is a superb collection of not-so-widely-known music that will titillate the fans of the genres represented- it is well worth the listen!

Jimmy Knight and his Knights of Rhythm, Jimmie "Playboy" Knight, Big Pete Pearson, Reverend Overstreet, and many somewhat known and somewhat unknown artists appear on this CD. Jimmy Knight plays the title tracks (parts 1 and 2,) which open and close the album.  Knight and Company offer a jumping mix of guitar and sax.  A classically humorous blues called “Give It Back” is similar to “Gimme Back My Wig” in theme, but asks for even more back.  John “Oklahoma Zeke” Lewis delivers this one quite well as he does “A Woman 78”.  Bud Spudd and the Sprouts give us “The Mash” and all I wanted after that was a little gravy.  The Tads offer up some nice call and response Doo Wop in “Hey Little Girl”.

This is a thoroughly entertaining mix of music that gives the listener an appreciation for the great local acts from Arizona from this era.  So many great acts that never really made it are always a part of music history.  Here we have tribute paid to some well deserving ones!  I loved this one!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Louisiana Swamp Stomp reviewed by Steve Jones

Louisiana Swamp Stomp
Various Artists
Honeybee Entertainment
15 tracks

The newly founded Northern Louisiana Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Foundation is dedicated to raise awareness of brain and spinal cord injuries and to help the funding of neurological research in Louisiana.  Louisiana is significantly deficient in this research because of little available funding. Organized by Paul McCarthy, Ph.D., Buddy Flett was his inspiration for creating the Foundation.  Flett was afflicted with encephalitis and, after many months of treatment and rehab, has returned to the music he loves to play.  Flett was treated at LSU Health Sciences-Shreveport and was instrumental in bringing  Louisiana's blues and cajun musicians out for this great cause.  He also appears on the CD with a mean rendition of “Livin’ Ain’t Easy”.

The CD was produced by Honeybee Entertainment and features 15 superb tracks by a veritable “Who’s Who” of musical greats and some exceptional local favorites like Carol Fran, Lil Buck Senegal and Dwayne Dopsie whose creole blues and zydeco are upbeat and just a joy to listen to.  Larry Garner, who along with Fran, is a surviving stroke victim, offers up some deep guitar blues on “It’s Killing Me” with Stanley Buckwheat Dural Jr assisting him.  They also rollick on “Ms. Boss” to close the set.

Chicago greats also help out for the cause.  Omar Coleman opens the set with the classics “Scratch My Back” and later offers up “Mojo Hand”; the vocals and harp are sublimely greased up and just a load of fun. Henry Gray (originally from Kenner, LA) offers up some of his classic vocals and piano work on “Times Are Getting Hard” and “How Could You Do It” and is as youthful in his approach as he was when he worked with Howlin’ Wolf in the ‘50’s.

Charlene Howard’s “Send Me Someone to Love” tender and soulful.   Little Freddie King offers up a down home  version of “Can’t Do Nothing Babe”.  The highlights of the CD may be Percy Sledge with “First You Cry” and “Swamp Stomp” by Sonny Landreth.  Percy just drips with his charm and sweet voice is in great form; Landreth just wails away on the CD’s hottest track, a classical cajun instrumental.

McCarthy and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith co-produced this great album.  While it was intended as a fundraiser, it is also a marvelous set of tunes crafted by a talented batch of musicians with a deep appreciation for the cause and the music they make.  Any blues and cajun music fan would be proud to own this and would enjoy listening to the fantastic assortment of fine artists giving their all.  This one’s a no brainer-no play on words or insult intended; it helps a great cause and you’ll get many hours of enjoyment with this one!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Living Proof reviewed by Rick Davis

Living Proof
Buddy Guy
Silvertone Records
12 Tracks

The latest album Living Proof from blues guitarist and vocalist Buddy Guy is somewhat of a retrospective journey of Guys career. He is joined on this masterful blues collection by two of his friends B.B. King and Carlos Santana.
After many years of paying his dues, Buddy Guy has emerged as one of the top bluesman of his generation, joined by a select few like both B.B. King, Otis Rush, and Lonnie Brooks. Buddy worked the Chicago clubs for a decade, starting as a sideman playing with the great Raful Neal (Kenny Neal's father). He came to Chicago in 1957 trying to land a record contract at the age of 21. He was encouraged by the legendary Muddy Waters when gigs weren't extremely lucrative for young bluesmen. His first accolade was winning a guitar contest at the Blue Flame on the South Side, combining his great guitar playing ability and showmanship using his 100-foot guitar cord which allowed him to wander through the audience and down the street. This trademark stayed with him throughout his career.

He has since produced 12 albums and a comprehensive box set. Living Proof starts out with "74 Years Young," an acoustic tune in the beginning, as the singer gives us a synopsis of his life as a bluesman. Then, about 90 seconds into the tune, he cuts loose on electric guitar, with a solo hot enough to raise the dead. He follows with  "Thank Me Someday", a bayou sound giving us his account his early childhood and his start as a guitar legend.  "On the Road" and "Too Soon" are tunes that give Guy the opportunity to shake the earth with his explosive guitar licks.

“Stay Around a Little Longer” is a little slower tune with a cameo spot by B.B. King. It allows B.B. King and Buddy to reflect on life and a lasting friendship. The two blues legends trade compliments and guitar solos, reassuring us they both have a lot yet to give. They reinforce their lifelong friendship, by stating that they will be friends even after they’re "pushing up daisies." This tune is a soothing change after strong, powerful start to the cd. "Key Don't Fit" ...your lock provides that classic blues theme of another failed relationship. Guy wails out the lyrics “I got this funny feeling you don’t want me ‘round anymore.” Buddy answers this song with the flipside tune later in the album "Let the Door Knob Hit Ya." In the title track "Living Proof" Buddy reminds us that he indeed is living proof of what you can accomplish with a positive attitude. On this number, he really tears up the fret board with guitar licks only Buddy can provide. Guy uses a couple backup singers to provide terrific harmony, including Bekka Bramlett, singer, songwriter, and daughter of famed folk duo Delaney and Bonnie. "Where The Blues Begins" creates the purist of blues with Carlos Santana providing his guitar solo and Buddy answering with stellar vocals and guitar. He continues the album with classic blues numbers "Everybody's Got To Go" and "Guess What." Buddy Guy concludes this showcase of tunes with a rousing guitar instrumental "Skanky." I hope that indeed he will be providing the blues world with more cds of this caliber for years to come.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

Now’s The Time reviewed by Steve Jones

Now’s The Time
The Rockin’ Johnny Band
13 tracks

Burgin is also a U of C grad and originally hails from Pennsylvania, but his immersion in Chicago blues was been pretty deep since he was only the fourth white bluesman to ever record on Delmark Records.  After a long, self-imposed hiatus from 2001 (after his almost  meteoric rise to local fame) to early 2009, he’s back with this new CD with a mix of somewhat nouveaux and 60’s-sounding blues.

Rockin Johnny Burgin had been a draw at the Chicago Blues Festival and he paid his dues at SmokeDaddy’s to become a great session band guy and front a pretty damn good band of his own.  Johnny has worked with Lurrie Bell, Lonesome River Band, Mississippi Heat, Little Arthur Duncan, Claire Lynch, Big Bill Morganfield, Pinetop Perkins, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith over the years.  His sound is pure Chicago, with a precise yet tiny bit guttural tone to his guitar.  His vocals are pretty white bread at times, but that cleanness provides a contrasting backdrop to his guitar work.  And while he sounds very white vocally, he pulls it all off.

Rick Kreher adds his guitar to the mix, Bob Lorenz is on drums, John Sefner plays bass, and Greg Sefner is on keys.  The final track features Kenny Smith on drums and Sho Komiya on bass and was recorded in 2000 at B.L.U.E.S. on Halstead; the rest was recorded in February 2010 at a Chicago-land studio.  It has a very clean and balanced sound throughout.

The slow blues guitar solos on “A Man and the Blues” are seminal stuff.  Just beautiful work; his fingers blast out notes cleanly and purely.  His sound and tone are  moving– I loved this track.  The lyrics may lack a bit (somewhat predictable) but the guitar is incredibly good!

He shuffle along nicely on “Pink Champagne”; more nice solo work.  Actually, his guitar is almost impeccable from start to finish.  His guitar on the standard “Little Red Rooster” also shines despite this being one of the most covered songs around.  My only complaint is the breathy vocals that sometimes sound a little inauthentic to me.  They are not bad, they just sound like a young white guy.  But the superior guitar work here more than makes up for that.

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Shake Your Boogie reviewed by Steve Jones

Shake Your Boogie
Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
Nevermore Records
13 tracks/1:01:47

Rick (aka The Reverend) Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys may be a regional act out of Milwaukee but they sound as big and solid as anyone else out there on the blues scene.  The blistering guitar work, poignant sax and harp, and gritty vocals make these guys one of my favorites to go see when they come to town.

A few years ago when I’d heard Rick Raven had traded in his harp player for a sax player I wondered how it would sound.  Between Madison Slim and Benny Rickun as his harp players, the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys sound was a perfect accompaniment to Raven’s solid guitar and vocals.  Those concerns dissipated the first time I heard him live with Big Al Groth on sax.  For those of you who may not have heard them live together, the first track on this CD will dispel any concerns.  “Looking for Love” is burning hot and Groth’s sax work fans the flames oh-so nicely.  Rick wrote the song and it is a nice original cut.  Groth appears on most of the CD (nine tracks); the songs where Al is not featured on sax feature Madison Slim on harp.  Slim’s harp work is exceptional and he provides gritty vocals on those four tracks, too.  “She’s Murder”, “Like Wolf”, “Mail Box Blues” and “Shake Your Boogie” are superb covers with the Rev beating out some great blues as Slim wails on harp and vocals.

Track two was penned by another local favorite, the very talented Gerry Hundt.  “Stomping and Shouting” feature Raven’s brand of nasal-bluesy, down home vocals and stinging guitar; Groth’s sax solo is really hot about half way through and then Raven takes over the lead on guitar and is equally hot.  His solo closes the song and by the end I felt like I needed a bottle of water to cool off.  Probably the best track here, but it’s hard to compare because the new and covered stuff is great, too. Hundt also wrote “Walking to Chicago”, a grooving tune that Rick and Al blast away on.   Raven’s “You Didn’t Even Say Goodbye” swings and jives with Raven and Groth playing back and forth and together tightly.

This is an excellent CD that both new and old fans will appreciate.  We get to hear a few older tracks with Madison Slim and a lot of newer ones with the Big Al Groth; both of these guys are superb in support of the Rev.  And one cannot leave out the current or older back line guys.  PT Pederson and Bobby Lee Sellers Jr are great on bass and drums, and Sellers sings exceptionally well on a couple of cuts where he is featured.  The songs with Slim feature Andre Maritato and Spencer Panosh on bass and drums and also Mickey Larson on keys.  Danny Moore provided keyboard support on four of the newer tracks.  All in all, this is one heck of a rocking blues CD.  Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

Brazilian Kicks reviewed by Harmonica Joe

Brazilian Kicks
Lynwood Slim and the Igor Prado Band
Delta Groove Music Inc.
13 Tracks/53:25

“Brazilian Kicks” is really an exciting release from Delta Groove Music. This CD features Lynwood Slim, an awesome vocalist and master of the harmonica. Lynwood is well known for the West Coast style of blues that he plays with the Lynwood Slim Band. His harmonica influences include Jimmy Reed, Little Walter and Paul Oscher. He has done a fine job of listening to the great harp players.

Joining Lynwood Slim on “Brazilian Kicks” is a fine Brazilian blues – jazz band, The Igor Prado Band. This band has built a good reputation playing its style of 40’s-50’s Chicago jump blues. This band is made up of musicians all in their 20’s. They all perform as if they have been around for many years. This is a very solid band. Igor Prado on lead guitar has his own style and sound as he plays the blues. Yuri Prado is the band’s drummer and does some really catchy drum lines though out the recording. Add Denilson Martins on the saxophones, Rodrigo Mantovani on acoustic bass and Donny Nichilo on piano to the mix and Lynwood Slim have a very fine blues band.
“Brazilian Kicks’ is a great mix of 13 really good tunes to fill your ear with. The opening tune “Shake It Baby”, is a Junior Wells – Buddy Guy funky, get you going song. On this song we are given an example of Igor Prado’s vocal talent. He does a great job with this tune. This track also lets us know that we will be hearing some awesome guitar playing from Igor also. His unique sound and interpretation of the song stands out here. His playing is really some good stuff. Denilson Martins, on saxophone, is also showcased on “Shake It Baby”. Lynwood Slim gives us a treat as he slips in a sample of his flute playing. This tune is one my favorite tunes on “Brazilian Kicks”.

Little Walter’s tune, “Little Girl”, gives us an opportunity to witness Lynwood Slim’s harmonica mastery. This tune is a great example of how blues harmonica should be played. His playing has it all, great tone, awesome timing and powerful dynamics. Slim is really smooth on his vocal interpretation on “Little Girl” also. One has to also listen closely to Igor on guitar. This tune is really well done.

“Bloodshot Eyes” will your attention right from the start. This is just a great upbeat jump swing tune with some fine lyrics. This tune features Denilson Martins serving up a large helping of some great saxophone playing. Igor jumps in on this one with more guitar soloing. With Rodrigo Mantovani’s heavy bass line, Yuri Prado’s drum line and Lynwood’s vocals this band is just kicking this tune down the road.

“Brazilian Kicks” released by Delta Groove Music Inc. is an example of 13 tunes performed really awesomely. The mix of Lynwood Slim and The Igor Prado Band just works really well. This is one CD that will give you hours of enjoyment. If it’s “Brazilian Kicks”, I would say that it is a gook kick.

Reviewed by Harmonica Joe