Monday, April 12, 2010
Johnny Charles "Stratified"
Winner of the 1995 W.C. Handy Award for best blues guitarist in the NYC Metro area, New Jersey’s guitarist extraordinaire Johnny Charles is no newcomer to the blues. This latest "Stratified" is a his third disc, and his second for Blues Leaf Records. This is a guitar lovers' tour de force, with burning lowdown blues interspersed with rockin' blues and The band is Johnny Charles (guitar, keyboards); Nasty Ned (vocals on two tracks); Rob Kondor (keyboards); Charlie Blackwell, Bill Blum, Chris Epler, Ron Howden (drums). Everything starts with "Stinger," a cooking instrumental that gives Charles plenty of room to show off. That's followed by "Step On It," a tidy rockabilly number, and then the classic "Take It Easy Baby" with vocals by Nasty Ned and loads of passionate and tasty guitar work. "The King Shuffle" is another instrumental with lots of Albert King styled blues work, and that is followed by "You Move Me" with great guitar by Charles, great vocals by Nasty Ned, and great uncredited harmonica. Then we make a stylistic shift to mid 70s Jeff Beck "Blow by Blow" era guitar jazz for "The Cat" before returning to the bluesy "Texas Blues" which takes that Johnny Winter style for a walk, and "Yardbird Stroll," which tips its hat to the jazz work of Jim Hall, before wrapping things up with the jazzy "Metro City" and then title track returns to the blues strat work we started with on "Stinger."
Johnny Charles has made an enjoyable and interesting record--i wish there were a couple more songs here, (there are only 10 songs) and the jazzy forays seem a bit dated, but overall the guitar work is terrific. I think Johnny Charles should be much better known--there is plenty here to nourish the blues lover who values musical taste above pyrotechnics.
You can buy this cd at: http://www.bluesleaf.com/johnnycharles