Thursday, December 27, 2012

Close To The Bone reviewed by Rick Davis

Close To The Bone
Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King
Delta Groove Music, Inc.
14 Tracks

Smokin' Joe Kubek hails from Irving, Texas and Bnois King from Monroe, Louisiana. Smokin' Joe played with the original Texas Cannonball, Freddie King as a teen before fronting his own band. Developing a lightning guitar style, earned him the nickname "Smokin' Joe." His style has been compared to the same aggressive guitar styles of Ste-vie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter. In the '70s and '80s he backed names like Al "TNT" Braggs and Little Joe Blue just to name a few.

Bnois King was influenced by an earlier gen-eration of legendary blues artists with a smoother guitar style like T-Bone Walker and B.B. King. He was captivated with the jazz and soul sound prevalent in the '50s and '60s. With Bnois fronting his own band in the '80s, they met backstage at another show, joined together and the rest is history. With Bnois providing the jazz and soul guitar style guitar along with the deep roots vocals and Joe contributing the high energy guitar style, they have formed the perfect team for over twenty years.

Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King fans are in for a pleasant surprise with their latest re-lease Close To The Bone. It is a 14 track, unplugged treasure chest of all acoustic tunes. Since this is an entirely different direc-tion for both artists, is an absolute must for all blues fans to hear. Along with this dy-namic duo, is a list of guests including fellow Delta Groove artists Big Pete, Lynwood Slim, Bob Corritore, Shawn Pittman, and Kirk Fletcher, keyboard man Fred Kaplan, former Red Devils guitarist Paul Size, Randy Chortkoff on harmonica, Willie J. Campbell on bass, Jeff Scott Fleenor on a suitcase foot drum, and Jimi Bott on drums.

The CD opens with "Poor Boy Blues" a tune by the duo that could be paralleled to the guitar styles of Rodrigo y Gabriela. "Can't Let Go" engages all three guests guitar play-ers Kirk Fletcher, Shawn Pittman and Paul Size. "My Best Friend" is one of the smooth-est ballads on the CD. "Keep Her Around," with its driving beat, blends the expertise of the three guest harmonica players, Randy Chortkoff, Bob Corritore, and Pieter "Big Pete" van der Pluijm, as well as Willie J Campbell on bass, and Jimi Bott, completing the rhythm section. "Yankin' My Chain" has guitar solos similar to tunes done by Eric Clapton's live '92 release "Unplugged."

"Drowning In Red Ink" with Fred Kaplan on piano, is reminiscent of the tune "Key To The Highway" co-written by Big Bill Broonzy. "My Hats Off To You" has a superb blend of acoustic solos with King's vocals being a perfect match. "No Good Could Come Of This" moves with lively guitar solos teamed with the duo of Chortoff and Corritore on harmonica. Bnois King makes his political statement on the slow blues tune "Ordinary Man." With a Spanish guitar style from Kubek, King warns of a failed marriage looming near in his lyrics on the tune "She Got Rid Of Me." "Jump The Moon" takes you down highway 61 going from one blues fest to another. The slow Delta blues tune "Mama's Bad Luck Child" takes you home with the with the roots blues guitar solos from Smokin' Joe and lazy harmonica of Lynwood Slim. King and Kubek capture the essence of spectacular acoustic guitar work with the final tune "Baby You're The One" as it fades in the end.

This legendary blues duo has accomplished a milestone by completing this project in splendid fashion. Close To The Bone is a totally different type of release for these two veteran bluesmen. We can only imagine what could be next.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

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