Over the many years - and it's getting close to forty-four - that I've been a fan of this glorious music they call the blues, I've unfortunately had the displeasure of hearing many a so called blues singer destroy a song while unsuccessfully attempting to sound like the original artist of the cover he was singing - especially if it was a cover of a HOWLIN' WOLF song. Thankfully, this is not the case here. According to MOTOR CITY JOSH, fourteen years of smoking and singing every night has actually given him a WOLF like voice. Now from a healthy point of view, I don't know how good that really is, but it's just what the doctor ordered for the making of this disc. JOSH absolutely nailed it.
On "FORTY FOUR", MOTOR CITY JOSH on amazing vocals, guitar, slide guitar & tambourine, is joined by: JOHNNY RHOADES on guitar & backup vocals; CHRIS DOUGLAS on standup & electric bass; JUSTIN HEADLEY on drums; SHAWN MC DONALD on piano & organ; STACIA FORD & ERIC SAVAGE on backup vocals; JASON RICCI on harmonica and the honoree himself, CHESTER BURNETT on backup vocals.
With all thirteen tracks being blues classics, it's going to be real hard to just pick a handful to mention, so I'll go with a "SPOONFUL". On this one, JOSH cleverly inserts audio clips of the WOLF himself singing backup and the results are masterful. Hearing them both singing together assures this was a perfect project for JOSH. Just as on the original, the rhythm - provided by CHRIS & JUSTIN - is killer.
With JOSH sounding as good as WOLF on the vocals and JASON blowing the harp like some of the masters that played it with WOLF, they're amazing together on "BACK DOOR MAN".
"SITTIN' ON TOP OF THE WORLD" may musically be the best track on "FORTY FOUR". It's a slow, soft ballad in which the music is actually more profound than the vocals and everyone is so sharp and precise. It's one of the few tracks that allow SHAWN to shine on piano, and that's a good thing. This is great stuff!
All I can say about "LITTLE RED ROOSTER" is that this one is all JOSH. C'mon, we're talkin' "LITTLE RED ROOSTER", here... and that means lots of raspy vocals with equal amounts of scratchy slide guitar. Josh covers them both very nicely.
Maybe it's because I can relate, but "BUILT FOR COMFORT" was always my favorite HOWLIN' WOLF song. This version is an all out free for all between the lead guitar, the harmonica and the drums - with no apparent loser. This one's hot.
If you plan to boogie all night long then turn up the volume and put on "WANG DANG DOODLE". It's no secret this tracks a smoker - regardless of who does it - but JOSH and the guys take it up a notch (yes, it's is possible). Great lead and rhythm guitar and wicked drum work highlight this highlight.
"FORTY FOUR" closes with "GOIN' DOWN SLOW". As we all know, this one's a slow blues burner. It's highlighted by great slide guitar by JOSH, smokin' lead guitar riffs by JOHNNY and solid and steady organ by SHAWN.
Other classics on the disc are: the title track, "FORTY FOUR", "EVIL IS GOING ON", "300 LBS OF JOY" (another one I can relate to), "I AIN'T SUPERSTITIOUS", "SMOKESTACK LIGHTNIN", and "MEET ME AT THE BOTTOM".
If you're a fan of HOWLIN' WOLF - and who isn't - you're going to want this disc. You can pick it up, along with his other nine releases, at www.motorcityjosh.com. By the way, make sure you check out his schedule as well. Josh has assured me that on his 2009 tour, along with the best of his originals, he'll be performing this CD - in it's entirety. So when ya see him, be sure to tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
Being one who never considered the mandolin a popular instrument, I nearly fell off my chair after seeing the names on a list I discovered as I searched the words "Popular musicians who play mandolin". I'm talking about members of JETHRO TULL, YES, TRAFFIC, PINK FLOYD, THE EAGLES, TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS, THE MOODY BLUES, THE BAND, LED ZEPPELIN, LITTLE FEAT, THE BEATLES, PROCOL HARUM and many other bands that I idolized when I wore a younger man's clothes - no, Billy Joel is not on the list. But people like MIKE OLDFIELD, STEVE VAN ZANDT, RORY GALLAGHER, RY COODER and DAVID BOWIE are.
The second time I almost fell of the chair was from the shock I was in by not seeing the name of the legendary JAMES "YANK" RACHELL on that list. That's what I get for searching "popular" and not "blues". With all due respect to all of the many wonderful people who do play this obviously unpopular style of music on this obviously very popular instrument, when I think a blues mandolin player, I think of the very man this CD is honoring - the late and very great MR. JAMES "YANK" RACHELL.
"A TRIBUTE TO THE LEGENDARY BLUES MANDOLIN MAN" features 16 songs written by YANK, a few others recorded by him and one of his favorite Gospel songs. I regret that, on those 21 tracks, there are just entirely too many musicians to mention - many of them great mandolin players themselves.
"SHOTGUN BLUES" is just one of this projects many highlights. It features another mandolin maestro - RICH DEL GROSSO - also on vocals, ERNIE SCARBROUGH on bass & keyboards and DAVID KITA on drums. The slug-out between the mandolin and the organ at the end of this one is hot.
A lot of good music is crammed into a short 3 minutes on "SHE CAUGHT THE KATY". Great rhythm by CRAIG "REDMAN" SMITH and JEROME MILLS on drums and bass, smokin' sax and B3 by CRAIG PETERSON and GUY VREEMAN, and good pickin' by SCOTT BALLENTINE on guitar all provide great support for beautiful vocals by KAREN IRWIN.
The story told by JOHN SEBASTIAN, which leads into "TAPPIN' THAT THING" - featuring him on vocals and guitar and DAVID GRISMAN on mandolin, is as good as any of the songs. It gets quite humorous as JOHN tells of how he came to do a session with YANK.
My favorite "BLUESY LITTLE TUNE" on the disc is a song called just that. This one features great vocals by STANLEY SMITH, also on guitar and some of the discs best mandolin playin' by ROBBIR GJERSOE. This one also features RYAN GOULD on upright bass, DAVID HAMBURGER on slide guitar and STEPHEN DOSTER on guitar.
"DEPRESSION BLUES" is some real good stuff.....and topical at that. STEVE BROWN, on vocals, does a great job singing about what a lot of us are currently experiencing. TIM DUFFY, TIM MESSERSMITH and DAN HOLMES on drums, bass and piano are in a real nice groove behind him, while ALLEN STATYNER hits some very high harp notes with some great blues mandolin by MIKE BUTLER. This is a hot one.
If you like good old fashioned, down home, front porch pickin' kinda stuff, then "GONNA GET UP IN THE MORNING" will get your foot tappin'. This instrumental features CURTIS BUCKHANNON on guitar, DAVE LANDRETH on banjo ukulele, JUDITH WALTERS on washboard and LESLIE J. LEWIS on National guitar. This one's a real foot stomper.
Listening to SHEENA RACHELL sing this one, it's quite clear she's got a real bad case of "LAKE MICHIGAN BLUES". Providing a very soothing rhythm behind her soulful vocals are CRAIG "REDMAN" SMITH on drums, AL STONE on bass and GUT VREEMAN on Hammond B3. Meanwhile, the soft yet sharp blue licks are being swapped between JIM LYNCH on the slide guitar and MIKE BUTLER-SCHWAB on electric 5 string slide mandolin.
The disc closes out with YANKS favorite Gospel song, "FREEDOM". It was recorded, in A Cappella, by his two daughters - MAY NELL RACHELL, on lead vocals & WILLIA B. RACHELL, on backing alto vocals, and his granddaughter - SHEENA RACHEL, on backing soprano vocals. It may be only 69 seconds long, but that's long enough to hear some absolutely beautiful harmony.
Other tracks on "A TRIBUTE TO THE LEGENDARY BLUES MANDOLIN MAN" include: "TEXAS TONY", "MOONSHINE WHISKEY", "MY BABY'S GONE", "SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD", "DIVIN' DUCK", "DEEP ELAM BLUES", "MY MIND GOT BAD", "LET ME TANGLE IN YOUR POTATO VINES", "BROWNSVILLE BLUES", "SEEMS LIKE A DREAM", "WADIE GREEN", and "CIGARETTE BLUES".
Regardless of your blues taste, I honestly believe this disc belongs in any collection. At Amazon.com the disc is only $8.99. Get outta here right now and go buy one. Proceeds from the disc go directly to the YANK RACHELL family. And remember, ya heard it from the Blewzzman.
Our regular readers will certainly recognize this bands name. "HEARTLESS", by BLUE VOODOO, is the bands third release to make it to these pages. With all of the original players in place, the only noticeable change is the play on the bands name. Just as bands once known as the Supremes and the Four Seasons came to be called Diana Ross and the Supremes and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, BLUE VOODOO is now calling themselves B J ALLEN & BLUE VOODOO. Rightfully so!
Speaking of those players, they are: B J ALLEN on lead & background vocals, JERRY FULLER on guitar & keyboards, J P HURD on bass & harp, DAVID DANIELS on drums and DEREK DANIELS on percussion.
On the opening track, B J offers some of the best advice I've ever heard.....You just "DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE MISSIN" till you sit down and listen to the blues. I've always felt that there are a lot more people out there who actually like the blues - they just don't know it. The problem is that while they're listening, they just don't realize they're listening to the blues. On the lyrics alone, this one rates song of the year consideration. On top of that, B J never sounded better than she does right here. The band just locks themselves into a great groove and lets her do her thing - belting out the blues in an oh so sass-soul-sultry way.
"RADIO SONG" starts off with a killer 30 second harp intro and features J P getting in a lot more licks throughout. With this one being one of the real blues burners, you can bet that JERRY'S right there with him on guitar as well. In the meantime, B J and the rhythm guys are doing their usual inspiring stuff. I can't believe I've been listening to this disc for about 40 minutes now and I'm still on the second track. This is the kind of stuff replay buttons were invented for.
If you don't agree with me that this track just reeks of emotion and intensity, then you are absolutely "HEARTLESS". On this, the title track, B J just pours it all out, and then some. This is the kind of song that during a live performance no one in the audience is making a peep.....and if they are, the person next to them needs to slap them upside the head. This one defines the term "Blues with a feeling".
On this next track, BLUE VOODOO seem to be a little funk-strated. While lyrically letting us know that they are frustrated with the worlds problems and pronounce that it's time we "DO SOMETHING", they're also in one hell of a funky groove. JERRY, J P and DAVID - on organ, bass and drums - supply the heat on this smoker.
If you're musical taste includes enjoying songs sung by Dinah, Sarah, Lena and Ella (no last names necessary), then you are going to absolutely enjoy listening to B J sing "SUNDAY KIND OF LOVE". She absolutely shines on this one. As a matter of fact, right here in the middle of the review, I'm going to suggest that B J ALLEN & BLUE VOODOO put out a disc of some of the beautiful standards sung by the ladies mentioned. What do you say, guys?
Other tracks on "HEARTLESS" include: "BORDERLINE", "TAKE OUT SOME INSURANCE", "IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU", "TRYIN' TO FIND THE GROOVE", "IRON CITY" and "GET IT WHILE YOU CAN".
You can check out B J and the guys at www.bluevoodooblues.com. From there you'll be directed to their Sonicbids page. That's where you're going to contact them, tell them the Blewzzman sent ya, and buy a copy of "HEARTLESS".
Not knowing KAREN LOVELY personally, it would be tough to figure out why she named her debut CD "LUCKY GIRL". The reasons could be countless. However, I do know this - to be gifted with a voice like hers and the skills with which to use it - she surely is one lucky girl.
Accompanying KAREN on "LUCKY GIRL" are several different ensembles of musicians. They are: LEE SPATH on Drums; RICHARD COUSINS on Bass; JIM PUGH on Piano & Organ; ALAN MIRIKITANI on Guitar, Sax & Bass; ANTOINE SALLEY on Keytar; ANDY JUST on Harp; TOM STAMPER on Drums & Percussion; JEFF ADICOTT on Acoustic & Electric Bass; DAVE SCOGGIN on Piano & Organ; MICHAEL VANNICE on Baritone, Alto & Tenor Saxophones; JOE DIEHL on Guitar; BRENT NORTON on Guitar, RICHARD BREDICE on Guitar; FRANK COTINOLA on Drums; ALAN DEREMO on Bass.
Along the lines of what Renee Zellweger said to Tom Cruise in the "JERRY MAGUIRE" movie, KAREN LOVELY "had me" with "Early one morning.........", the opening words on the opening track. It took exactly that little of "TELL ME BABY" for me know this lady could sing the blues. Some powerful rhythm and great guitar leads by TOM, ALAN & BRENT also highlight this one.....which is just the first of many great tracks.
"YOU DON'T MOVE ME" will move you.....right on to the dance floor . And once you start, be careful not to trip on the changes. Just when you think your Cha-Cha's in full swing, MICHAEL'S horns will get you swinging in a whole different direction.
If you're going to do a cover of this man's work, you'd better have the chords to go along with the courage. On "BOOM BOOM", KAREN easily has what it takes. As a matter of fact, this version would probably put a smile on John Lee Hooker's face. From a soft, sexy, whisper to a powerful crescendo, Karen's vocal range on this one is absolutely masterful.
On "BLUES IS MY BUSINESS", as you hear KAREN sing the lyrics "Blues is my business and business is good" it's a no brainer knowing that with a voice like this, business is going to stay good. ALAN and DAVE, nail it on guitar and piano & organ. It seemed a shame that the groove the band was in on this one didn't go thirteen minutes instead of three.
KAREN is at her best on "ROCK ME". Let me tell you, the next time you're with whomever it is you want to get rocked by - put this track on, program it for replay - and I promise you.....you will get rocked all night long. The sultry vocals and saxophones on this one will have the slow dancers in their glory.
Other tracks on "LUCKY GIRL" are: "UNLUCKY GIRL", "TOO LITTLE TOO LATE", "I'M A LITTLE MIXED UP", "IT'S TOO LATE", "BOOGIE SOME" and "LUCKY GIRL" (HOOCHIE COOCHIE WOMAN).
According to KAREN LOVELY'S bio, prior to recording this CD, she took a fifteen year hiatus from the music business. It's this listeners hopes that there'll be no more of that. This woman belongs in music - particularly in the blues. Thankfully, I've been told a new project - with many originals - is currently in the works.
To learn more about the woman who will soon be a force to be reckoned with in the world of the blues, stop by www.karenlovely.com. While you're there, send her my regards and your money.....for a copy of "LUCKY GIRL"
, of course.
If you're going to release a CD with nine of the ten tracks being covers of the blues standards, and you hope it will get some recognition, then you - and the rest of the musicians on the disc - better be very good. On "FOLLOW ME TO THE BLUES", PETER McGRAW, and the rest of the musicians, are exactly that.
On his first solo album, vocalist PETER McGRAW is joined by: DONNIE "MR. DOWNCHILD" WALSH on harp; HANS McMINAMIN on guitar; ROY "THE MAESTRO" POWERS on keyboards, RICHARD LOVE on drums; LARRY "O" MAYO on bass.
The disc opens with the title, and sole original track (written by ROY) - "FOLLOW ME TO THE BLUES". The song does exactly what an opening track should do - impress and expose the listener to a taste of what they're in for. In barely over 2 minutes, everyone gets in some impressive highlights and PETER establishes himself as a singer I want to hear a lot more of. My immediate thought was that if this was the type of stuff I'd hear, I'd follow these guys anywhere.
By the next track, "SWEET HOME CHICAGO", the guys are locked into a groove they never lose. RICHARD, LARRY and ROY, old band mates in THE VAGRANTZ, are obviously still in tune with each other after all these years. Their outstanding rhythm on this, and the rest of the disc, are evidence of that. With repeated harp highlights by DONNY, great guitar riffs from HANS and gruff, yet melodic, vocals from a voice that was made to sing the blues, by PETER, this one's a winner.
In the first sixty seconds of "THE SKY IS CRYING", the little pieces you'll hear from everyone in the band will make you happy that there is eight more minutes of it still ahead. I don't care how many times you've heard this track and how many bands you've heard do it - this version will knock your socks off. With everyone at discs best, this one's unquestionably the discs best.
Another track that will have you comparing it to the original is "I GOT A WOMAN". With RICHARD absolutely relentless on the drums behind him, this one has PETER sounding as soulful as Ray Charles sounded.
Anyone that's ever read my reviews of a CD containing the song "I'D RATHER GO BLIND" already know that the song is my all time favorite. As a matter of fact, I've been known to bring the KOKO TAYLOR version of it to clubs with me, so that I could lend it to the band to learn it. The results were always good - I've never heard a version of the track I did not like. PETER'S version allows me to keep that thought in tact. This song is meant to be sung by a strong, soulful and raspy voiced vocalist and ya don't get any stronger, more soulful and raspier than PETER McGRAW. Of course, you also need an incredible guitar lead to make this one work and HANS is all over it. Great stuff!
Another track that had me shaking my head in awe was "AS THE YEARS GO PASSING BY". This ballad is, of course, one of the slower and more low down blues tracks....the kind that always make me smile. With the rhythm section so softly locked in just the right spot, PETER, HANS and ROY excel on the vocals, guitar and keyboards. Another highlight amongst highlights.
Other tracks on "FOLLOW ME TO THE BLUES" include: "HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN", "BRING IT ON HOME TO ME", "UNCHAIN MY HEART" and "LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL".
For more on PETER McGRAW, go to www.bluesdestinyrecords.com. There you'll be able to pick up a copy of this disc and read about his pending new release "MORE McGRAW". After what I've just heard, I'm certainly ready for more McGRAW. By the way, ya know ya gotta tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
The nucleus of PLANET FULL OF BLUES is the duo of JOHNNY RAY LIGHT on Guitars & Lead Vocals and BROCK HOWE on Drums & Background Vocals. Their self titled release "PLANET FULL OF BLUES", which consists of eleven originals by JOHNNY, features the following special guests: JAMES ALBRIGHT on Bass; ERIC STARK on Trumpets and Horn Arrangements; RICHARD YEAGER on Saxophones; PAUL DRAPER on Hammond B3 Organ; and LARRY GANN on Percussion and Background Vocals. I'd also like to give credit to BETTY "MS. SHABOOM" CREDLE......not so much for being the discs Cover Model, but for the great sense of humor she obviously has.
Seeking medical help for his ailments, JOHNNY felt a bit relieved when his doctor said "There's nothing wrong with you.....you "GOT THE BLUES". Avoiding the 'Take two aspirin and call me in the morning' remedy, Johnny's doctor flat out told him "There's nothing you can do, when you got the blues - you just gotta move your shoes". Alright Doc! This track features great vocals and hot guitar from JOHNNY and fierce rhythm from BROCK, JAMES and PAUL on the drums, bass & Hammond. Real good stuff right here.
"PLANET FULL OF BLUES", The title track and bands moniker, is one of three tracks that will have you wishing ERIC & RICHARD appeared on more than just these three - their horns are fabulous and certainly one of this tracks highlights. The others are BROCK creating a frenzy on the drums and more strong vocals and guitar from JRL.
Slowing things down a bit is a beautiful ballad titled "COMING FROM A FRIEND". The whole bands fallen into a soothing groove and it sounds real nice. Although I've heard a slight resemblance to Blood, Sweat & Tears since the opening, JOHNNY'S vocals will surely perk up the David Clayton-Thomas fans ears.
If you like your blues on the funky side, then here's one for your "MONEY". ERIC & RICHARD are back on the horns, and with killer company from BROCK & JAMES on drums and bass, they're funkin' this one up big time. If you're not movin' while this one's on then either you ears or your arteries are clogged.
By now, you all know what it means when I say a particular track on a disc is my personal favorite. On "PLANET FULL OF BLUES", that track is "MAN TAMER" - and yes, it's 'cause it the bluesiest track of them all. With the rhythm section in just the right spot behind them, JOHNNY & PAUL shine. Of course, there are some great blues guitar licks and gritty vocals from JOHNNY and PAUL - at discs best, has that Hammond hummin'. Replays are in order here.
Other tracks on "PLANET FULL OF BLUES", include: "PAIN WILL MELT AWAY", "YOU CAN'T ALWAYS BE RIGHT", "MISS HER SMILE", "DIRTY PAINS", "WHEN WILL YOU SEE THINGS MY WAY" and a fast and frenzied closing instrumental called "E-JAM".
You know the drill. Now it's time for you to go to www.planetfullofblues.com to buy the disc and tell JOHNNY & BROCK that the Blewzzman sent ya.
JOHN PARKER has always written songs that are funny and true to his personal life. Suffering from liver cancer, his music became his medicine - it gave him his happiness and kept him going for several years. The finishing touches were put on this "Self-Titled" CD just days before he passed away. None of the music he ever wrote was more personal than the songs that appear on this disc. As I listened to them, it became quite clear to me that I was listening to a man who knew his fate, accepted it and actually used it in a positive way. On one of the tracks, JOHN says that if he ever had a chance to live his life over again, the only thing he'd change was that he'd "Find a cure for the blues". If you ask me, I believe he already had.
JOHN PARKER may be known as the "The Rockin' Bluesman", but make no mistake about it - his music is not Blues Rock, it is the Blues. I guess the association with "Rockin" comes from the claim that his music will "make you leave your seat and get up on your dancin' feet." So let's start dancin'.
On his second release - a self titled CD - JOHN PARKER, on Lead Guitar & Vocals, was joined by JEFF JENSEN on Rhythm Guitar, BILL RUFFINO on Bass and Backup Vocals, STEVE HALTER on Keyboards, Organ & Piano, CHRIS COLLIER on Drums and Backup Vocals, RALPH MUEGGLER on Drums, NATE LA POINTE on Guitar, Slide Guitar & Pedal Steel, SHERRY PRUITT on Backup Vocals and KYLE CULKIN on Guitar.
It sounds like some of the lyrics on the opening track may have come to JOHN while watching a TV commercial. "No money down, easy pay, divorce / bankrupt / bad credit OK - same day financing - drive it away". All of that obviously made it easy for him to say "I GOT ME A NEW CAR". This one featured great guitar work from John and exceptional rhythm from Bill & Chris on the bass and drums.
"I AIN'T GONNA GIVE UP" was obviously more than the title of this song - it was JOHN'S belief. This track pretty much tells his story and in doing so offers some pretty encouraging advice as well. Musically it's one of the discs best. JOHN'S smokin' it on guitar, NATE'S great on the Pedal Steel and the rest of the band's jammin' out. Real good stuff.
JOHN'S realism makes it easy for him to say he's going to "FORGET ALL HIS FEARS". This, one of the few slower tracks, features more amazing real life lyrics, great lead and backup vocals, soft piano and organ work from STEVE and great blues guitar licks from JOHN.
"I'VE GOT THE BLUES" is a smoker. C'mon, would you expect anything less with a title like that? This one features some of JOHN'S best guitar work and some real hot piano blues from Steve. As on most tracks, the rhythm section's at it's peak. More good stuff right here.
With the rest of the band in a real soft groove behind him, "HOPELESS ROMANCE" is all about the man, his vocals, his guitar, his thoughts and his emotions. This is JOHN PARKER at his best. I dare you to not hit replay at the end of this one.
There's nothing worse than having the blues "EARLY IN THE MORNING", as this track will attest. On the other hand, if ya gotta get up early in the morning, this one will have you doin' a calypso before you even have your coffee. Great percussion and backup vocals highlight this Island sounding tune.
"I'LL NEVER BE FREE" is definitely one of the songs they were talking about when they said JOHN PARKER'S music will make you leave your seat and get up on your dancin' feet. However, to this one, you'll be doin' a lot more swaying than rockin'. What an absolutely beautiful and relaxing song. JOHN'S vocals and STEVE'S keyboards will surely sweep you away. Although there is more, this appears to be the most fitting song to close with.
Other tracks on this remarkable disc include: "THE PRICE OF FAME", "LOVE'S GONNA FIND YOU", "MY VALENTINE", "QUEEN OF THE DAMNED" and 'WAITIN' FOR THE WATER TO RISE".
I know I close out all of my reviews stating how much I loved what I just listened to and wrote about, and I always recommend you grab a copy for your collection, and that's because I choose my reviews. Having said that, if you've never listened to that advice before, do yourself a real favor and take heed....even if it's the first and last time you do. This may very well be the most interesting CD I've heard all year.
Please check out JOHN PARKER'S web site by going to www.JohnParkerBlues.com - and you won't have to tell him the Blewzzman sent ya..... I have a feeling he already knows that.
This CD, as LIGHTNIN' ROD WILSON made a point of telling me, is not about any specific "named storm". It is about all of the various storms that all of us go through from time to time. The way ROD tells it, "What matters the most is the kind of person we are........"AFTER THE STORM".
On "AFTER THE STORM", LIGHTNIN' ROD WILSON, on Lead Vocals, guitars, mandolin, percussion, strings and bass is joined by: BROTHER BILL LEWIS on bass; WALLY WEEBER on drums; ERIC KORTE on tenor sax; DALE BEAGLE on piano and strings; DANIELLE GROSS on backup and lead vocals; AMY ROBERTS on backup vocals; SARAH JONES on alto sax; TIFFANY BAYS, backup vocals; STAN ZIMMER on drums; SMOKIN' JOE ORTIZ on harmonica. Except for "JOHN THE REVELATOR", all tracks were written by LIGHTNIN' ROD WILSON.
The opening track, "CLOSE TO YOU", opens with words that, time and time again, I've found myself saying - "I hope the traffic cop don't have his radar on". It seems, as the title indicates, that ROD is obviously in a rush to get close to his woman. This track features the whole band in a nice tight groove, with great guitar and sax highlights by ROD and ERIC.
"BRING YOU BACK HOME" is just one of the many tracks on this disc which feature intense vocals. DANIELLE & AMY are absolutely superb backing up ROD, who sings his heart out on this one. If like me, you were awed with the powerful way in which RICHARD HARRIS sang "MCARTHUR'S PARK", then you will absolutely love LIGNTNIN' ROD'S vocal style. The rhythm work from BILL & WALLY and the piano playing by DALE also highlight this one.
If you like it funky, "NARCISSISTIC FOOL" will fill that bill. On this one, of course, the rhythm section's on fire and some extra heavy bottom is provided by ERIC as he has that tenor sounding more like a baritone. At THE THUNDERBOLTS live shows, the dancers have to love this one. As a matter of fact, they probably stay right on the floor if the next song played is "CRAWLING BACK HOME". On this smoker, even the wall flowers will have a hard time standing still to the swinging rhythm provided by BILL & ERIC on drums and sax.
There's nothing I like more than hearing a musician say "I GUESS I'LL JUST SING YOU THE BLUES". This one features DANIELLE, on lead vocals, doing just that. However, I promise you that you've never heard them sung like this. Her voice is astoundingly angelic and it's not all that often you hear an angel singing the blues. DALE on piano and strings was equally awesome.
"AFTER THE STORM" closes with a soft instrumental titled 'FLIGHT OF THE FREE SPIRIT". This one is all about ROD and his acoustic guitar. Listening to it was perhaps the most relaxing three minutes I've had in a real long time. I could have sat back, closed my eyes and listened to this for hours.
Other tracks on "AFTER THE STORM" include: "AFTER THE STORM", "WRITING ON THE WALL", "ROSALEE", "CRAWLING BACK HOME", "JOHN THE REVELATOR" and "ALLIGATOR WOMAN".
To check out LIGHTNIN' ROD & THE THUNDERBOLTS, and to purchase a copy of "AFTER THE STORM", just go to www.lightnin-rod.com. Of course, you'll be sure to tell him Pete the Blewzzman sent ya.