RATSO is a band that records on RIFF RAT RECORDS and the band consists of JOHN "RATSO" GERARDI on guitar and vocals, FONDA FEINGOLD on keyboards and vocals, RICHARD CROOKS on drums, SCOTT SPRAY on bass, STEVE HARDWICK on guitar and vocals and ANGEL RISSOFF on vocals. On "WATER RISING", which consists of 12 very bluesy, very jazzy, very funky and extremely vibrant originals, they are joined by a slew of outstanding guest artists. As I mention the tracks that particularly impressed me - and mostly all of them did - I will give credit to some of the guests.
"MAKE IT STICK", is a perfect opening track. It immediately had me shaking in my seat - and I love when that happens - and made it very difficult for me to type. It's a funky DR. JOHN sounding track that's really jazzed up. JEFF BOVA on Hammond B3 and Synthesizer along with some excellent vocals make this a standout. "HARDER BY THE MINUTE" is a very similar track which keeps the funky thing going on and features some nice baritone sax solos by JOE MEO.
"COLD FRONT" is one of the bluesiest tracks on "WATER RISING", and needless to say, one of my personal favorites. The keyboard work is outstanding and guest drummer Andy La Due definitely spices up the rhythm section. The next track, "THE BLUES IS WHAT YOU FEEL", just kept taking the direction of this CD more down into the blues and the further it went the more I started liking it. The vocals and the guitar on this track are what the blues is all about, or as the title states........what you feel.
Strangely, but yet tastefully, two tracks "NO CANDLE" and "THIS THING CALLED LOVE" provide a little reggae and little calypso/island sound to this CD. On both of these tracks the percussion work of FRED WOLCOTT is outstanding.
"DON'T LET THE SAME DOG BITE YOU TWICE" is all 'RATSO'. It's a straight up, hard driving, fast paced, smokin' guitar licks filled track with excellent vocals. This one got the replay button hit more than once.
"TOO MUCH JAWBONE" ends this CD with an interesting flavor. It's a tasty little number featuring lots of Dixie Land with a bit of Jug Band with some Leon Redbone style vocals. Outstanding were JOE BOERST, on the upright bass; RICHARD CROOKS, on washboard and jaw harp; JOHN GOLDSCHMID, on piano and JOE MEO, on clarinet and giggle. Indeed a fun track to listen to.
I must admit that this CD certainly was a surprise hit with me. I guess it's that first impression thing. Looking at the CD cover in conjunction with the name RATSO had me thinking "oh no - another rock CD that claims to be blues". However, I was pleasantly surprised and pleased that I was wrong. "WATER RISING" is quite enjoyable listening
It's quite a challenge for a band or a musician to get me to listen to and review a CD that's a style of blues music that normally is not my listening preference. On the other hand, it's quite an accomplishment for them when the CD impresses me. "MY MOJO'S JUST TOO WEAK" succeeded at both - it met the challenge and overwhelmingly impressed me.
It's such a pleasure for a reviewer when the product being reviewed is so talent laden. This CD consists of one right after another of very interesting, sometimes humorous, often truthful and always cleverly written songs. On "MY MOJO'S JUST TOO WEAK", JOOK BOURKE not only wrote all eleven tracks, he also does all the vocals, plays the harmonica and guitars and constructed all the drum loops. Amazing! And, that's just not my reaction, that's the description of the results.
On the title track, "MY MOJO IS JUST TOO WEAK", JOOK sings about the pages in his little black book turning yellow and shriveling up. Seeking help from 'Madam Clara' he gets told that "there ain't no help for him, his Mojo is just too weak.
"WOULD YOU HELP ME THROUGH THIS LIFE?" is a song about a man contemplating leaving his woman. As he seeks advice from his brother he is told that she is perfect for him and "she could help him through this life, be there when he gets old and hold him when it gets cold. When he runs into this lady shortly afterward he follows his brothers advice by stating to her that HE can help HER through this life, be there for HER when SHE gets old and hold HER when SHE gets cold.
On "YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY", after two minutes of JOOK ranting about how crazy his woman is apparently driving him, the last thirty seconds reveal that it isn't his woman he is singing about at all. The revelation that he is singing about his cat becomes quite evident when he states that "If I had known you'd get this big and live this long, 15 years ago I'd have gotten a dog instead."
There is no question that "IT'S ALREADY TOO LONG", is my favorite track on this CD. The song is about a man waiting for his woman to get ready as they are about to head out somewhere. The lyrics are so absolutely hilarious and candidly clever that I, at one point considered writing them out in full, right here in the review. However, I think they will be more enjoyable to you when heard being sung by JOOK BOURKE himself.
It's this type of singing, song writing, and guitar playing that may someday actually make me a fan of acoustic, roots type blues music. Well done JOOK! Apparently, there's nothing weak at all about your mojo.