Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nick Moss "Privileged"

Nick Moss is a great guitarist and singer. For the past decade he was the front man for the Fliptops, who with him were the premier Chicago blues band around. After they made seven very fine discs together, evidently the Fliptops are no more. This is Nick Moss's second solo effort--after his debut in 2001--and it is possibly the best thing he has ever done. The lineup for this new disc is: Nick Moss: guitar, vocals, harmonica; Nick Skilnik: bass; Willie Oshawny: piano, organ, vocals; Travis Reed: organ; Bob Carter: drums. The playing is up to Chicago blues standards, which means it sounds terrific, solid, committed, full. The sound here is funkier, but still recognizably blues. In the promo materials, Moss indicates that he wanted to broaden the pallete of the blues, and in line with that there are a few interesting covers here--Cream's "Politician," Steven Still's "For What It's Worth"--each done with passion and taste. In fact, I am surprised that anybody in this day can cover "For What It's Worth" anymore and make it work. It might be the best thing on "Privileged." Then you listen to the rest of the disc, and every song is that good. This is a great effort, but I think it's transitional too. You really ought to hear this cd for yourself. Nick Moss has been one of the premier band leaders and guitarists in the Chicago blues for the past several years, at the absolute top of that game--there was nothing more for him to prove by continuing with the Fliptops, making great records one after another. By taking this step, Nick can challenge himself, explore the various opportunities and directions out there in front of him. I think Moss has an absolutely jaw-dropping disc ahead of him, at least one, and this is a necessary step to get from the "Live at Chans" discs to fulfilling that promise. My hat's off to him, and I applaud his guts taking this step.

All of Nick Moss's music is available at http://www.bluebellarecords.com

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Mannish Boys "Shake For Me"

This is the Mannish Boys Five Year Anniversary as a band, and their fifth cd release--it seems hard for me to believe that
a.) there was a blues world not all that long ago which somehow existed without The Mannish Boys? and
b.) how did we get along without all these great songs?

Because the fact of the matter is that most of the songs the Mannish Boys have committed to disc since December 2004 were pretty obscure prior to The Mannish Boys reviving them. That was the reason for bringing the Mannish Boys into the Delta Groove world--for the sake of the songs. Remember that. There will be a quiz later.

The Mannish Boys make real blues music by people who love the blues as much as we do. They are a Los Angeles based blues band who record for Delta Groove Music. They play in the West Coast style, with occasional forays into 40s and 50s jump blues and Chicago blues. Returning on this release as the constants in the revolving door of great musicians who have been in the Mannish Boys are Randy Chortkoff on harmonica, Kirk "Eli" Fletcher and Frank "Paris Slim" Goldwasser on guitars, Finis Tasby, Bobby Jones and Johnny Dyer on vocals. New to this release is the rhythm section of Willie J Campbell on bass and Jimi Bott on drums, replacing Ronnie James Webber and Richard "Big Foot" Innes.

Anyway, this disc is great, just like all their other discs. All five cds have featured top-notch musicianship and great songs done with joy and respect and verve. This time out the highlights include Muddy Waters' "Champagne and Reefer" with a terrific piano line by Fred Kaplan and sung great by Johnny Dyer, Little Walter's "Last Night" with a great harp turn by guest Rod Piazza and vocals by Finis Tasby, and a really fun Bo-Diddleyish "Mona/Willie & the Hand Jive" by guest Mike Zito and Bobby Jones.

I listen to the Mannish Boys cds a lot, and I enjoy them all---but one disc I keep finding in my cd player is Kirk Fletcher's "Shades of Blue" from 2004 on Delta Groove. It features several members of what became the Mannish Boys--Kirk Fletcher, Finis Tasby, Ronnie James Webber, Richard Innes, with production by Randy Chortkoff. It's a really good cd. In fact, if there is an artist whose music you enjoy who plays for, or played for, or guested on a cd by The Mannish Boys, you should pick them up. It's a great franchise--everything is really good. I especially encourage everybody reading this to buy the cds by The Hollywood Fats Band and The Hollywood Blue Flames and Kim Wilson. You will thank me later.

The Mannish Boys music is available at http://www.themannishboys.com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saturday Night Mojo--"Neighborhood Sweetie"

Saturday Night Mojo have made a fine cd that showcases their fun, up-tempo, rocking brand of the blues. These guys have plenty of experience--they used to be The Porkchops, a well-regarded cover band from Cleveland Ohio. Then they began writing their own songs, and in 2002 they evolved into saturday Night Mojo. The band is made up of Ed Durma, (drums and harp) Ray Fisher, (bass) Denny Klisuric, (guitar) and Joe Piete (guitar). The songs are all originals. Things get off to a rocking start with the title track, written by Joe Piete and featuring a great Hendrix styled funky guitar sound. Next up is "Just The Way We Like It," written by Ed Durma, a harp showcase with another great guitar solo and hot drums. This one has potential hit written all over it. Then the Ray Fisher-penned "I Ain't Lying," a barroom blues shuffle that showcases the twin guitar attack. Then Denny Klisuric's song "Fool No More," it starts out rocky but soon is redeemed by a very nice guitar solo. "Boston," written by Joe Piete, is another of those eternal "gotta get back home" blues songs. Then a very cool things happens. The rest of the cd just takes off--Ray Fisher's "Nobody Got Dem Blues" and Ed Durma's "Ashtabula Blues" and "Old Black Moe" and "Never Givin' Up," both written by the band, are clearly the highlights--strong harp and guitar songs, great vocals, blues all over the room. And how many bands do you know who have the chops to close their cd with an instrumental? A really good instrumental--"Never Givin' Up" sounds like the Butterfield Blues Band on a good night! I truly expect these songs to get Saturday Night Mojo plenty of blues radio play. These guys are really very good. They play a variety of styles, they write good songs, they all sing. It's an independent production and that does show--I think the cd could sound a little better, especially in the vocals, with more money spent on production. But the future Iooks bright. I like this cd, and I'm already looking forward to where these guys will go with their next one.

You can buy this cd online at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/saturdaynitemojo1