Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Cash Box Kings -- "Holler and Stomp"

The Cash Box Kings have made the best blues disc of 2011. After a decade of playing together, they bring to life the richest sound of anything I heard all year, a deeply vintage and yet clean uncluttered sound. The Cash Box Kings are still anchored by Joe Nosek, Oscar Wilson, and Kenny ‘Beedy Eyes’ Smith. The songs here are uniformly wonderful. Seven are written by band members and five are covers. The originals are all terrific, but the covers are off-beat and brave choices--did anybody else in 2011 cover Hank Willams, Ray Sharpe, Muddy Waters AND Lightnin' Hopkins all on one record, and do every one of them great? There is abundant variety of styles here, but everything here is deeply honest blues. Some of that variety comes naturally from having two fine and very different sounding vocalists, Joe Nosek and Oscar Wilson (and Nosek also plays harmonica); two guitarists, Joel Patterson (who mostly plays lead) and Billy Flynn (who mostly plays rhythm); a really good keyboardist, Barrelhouse Chuck; two good bass players, Chris Boeger and Jimmy Sutton; and three really good drummers, Mark Haines (on 4 songs), Alex Hall (on one song) and Kenny 'Beedy Eyes' Smith (on 5 songs). Kenny Smith is of course the son of the legendary Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (Muddy Waters’ drummer from 1968-1981). With this abundance of talent to draw from, The Cash Box Kings have the chops to make great blues records, and this one is exactly that.

I have heard it said that there is a great blues band on the East Coast, Roomful of Blues, and one on the West Coast, The Mannish Boys. Both of those are really good bands. Well, there is a great blues band in Chicago too--The Cash Box Kings. You can't go wrong buying all the music you can find by all three.

Extra credit for the cover here of the Rolling Stones' song "Off The Hook." Fabulous!

You can buy this cd at

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