Monday, November 28, 2011

Holler and Stomp reviewed by Mark Thompson

Holler and Stomp
The Cash Box Kings
Blind Pig Records
12 tracks/41:01

It is getting harder and harder to find a hardcore blues recording amidst the steady stream of releases that promise blues but deliver rock music with faint blues influences. Thankfully, the Cash Box Kings celebrate their new association with the Blind Pig label by delivering a recording that is full of authentic, Chicago-style electric blues that is sure to excite blues fans around the world. The rotating line-up of the band is anchored by Joe Nosek, Oscar Wilson and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, who keep the music suitably grounded in the blues. The rest of the participating musicians are all highly regarded veterans who bring a wealth of experience to the group.

Check out the driving rhythm on Nosek's original “Fraulein On Paulina”, a musical tribute to sweet-loving woman from the northside of Chicago. Smith sets the pace on drums with help from Jimmy Sutton on bass. Joel Paterson lays down a swinging guitar solo followed by some fine harp from Nosek. The band brings the sound of the Louisiana swamp to the southside as singer Oscar Wilson goes off in search of his woman and some hot links on another original, “That's My Gal”. The easy-rolling groove on “Barnyard Pimp” recalls the Jimmy Reed style and features a call-and-response between Wilson's robust vocal and Nosek's echoing harp lines.

On “Feel Like Going Home”, the band captures the deep blues sound that defined the Muddy Waters legacy, primarily due to Wilson's eerie recreation of Muddy's vocal style while Paterson lays down plenty of nasty slide guitar licks. The buoyant rhythm of the title track frames a strong vocal from Nosek and more of Paterson's stellar slide guitar work. The proceedings shift to country blues on the instrumental “Hayseed Strut”, with Billy Flynn on mandolin and Barrelhouse Chuck on piano getting solo space. Both men regularly perform as members of the Cash Box Kings. Nosek pays tips his hat to a regular visitor to southside Chicago clubs on the closing track, “Tribute to the Black Lone Ranger”. Smith lays down one of his patented shuffle beats while Nosek threatens to blow the reeds out of his harp.

The breadth of the band's musical interests comes to light in their choices of tunes to cover. Wilson's exhilarating singing and Barrelhouse Chuck's Farfisa organ spark a rendition of an early Rolling Stones cut, “Off the Hook”. Sutton's high-pitched voice takes the lead on a rocking version of RaySharpe's “Oh My Baby's Gone”. A remake of Hank Williams “Blues Come Around” retains the country influences while some dazzling piano from Barrelhouse Chuck and a spirited solo from Paterson inject an equal amount of blues feel to the performance. Wilson's earnest singing on Lightnin' Hopkins “Katie Mae” is another memorable highlight.

This is one of those discs that will find a permanent place in your cd player. Even though the musicians change from track to track, the Cash Box Kings maintain a consistently high standard of performance throughout the disc. Equally impressive is their varied approach, expertly mixing various aspects of the blues genre into an outstanding collection. This one deserves your undivided attention – and comes highly recommended !!!
Reviewed by Mark Thompson

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