Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reverend Raven & the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys -- Shake Your Boogie

The first time I heard this disc it blew me away--an almost perfect slice of party blues, similar in feel to those great cds by The Bel Airs or Omar & the Howlers. These guys can all play great, and they've been playing together forever. Well, since 1966, anyway. "Shake Your Boogie" is their fourth release dating back to 1998--I recommend all of them. This time out they do exactly what they've done on all those previous discs, and what they do every night on the upper mid-western blues circuit--they play that good time blues music, lifting spirits and kickin' ass. The band is Reverend Raven on guitar and vocals, P T Pedersen on bass, Bobby Lee Sellers Jr on drums and vocals, Danny Moore on piano/organ, and sometimes the great Big Al Groth on sax. Madison Slim provides harp and vocals on four tracks, where an alternative rhythm section of Andre Maritato on bass and Spencer Panosh on drums sit in and the sax is absent. Piano and organ are provided by either Mickey Larson or Danny Moore on most tracks. Reverend Raven wrote three of the songs, and PT Pedersen wrote one song, the sole instrumental here. Gerry Hundt, former member of Nick Moss’ Fliptops is the author of two tracks. The covers this time out come from Hound Dog Taylor, Slim Harpo, Little Milton, St Louis Jimmy Oden, Robert Nighthawk and Sonny Boy Williamson. The album was recorded live on stage in Milwaukee, but from the absence of any crowd noise I assume that it was ‘live’ without an audience. Too bad. It would have been a lot of fun to watch these songs come to life in the hands of this great band.

It's hard to pick favorites. The opener, "Looking For Love," sets the table. By the time we're on the 4th track, the traditional "Just Count The Days that I'm Gone," I'm hooked, looking forward to "She's Murder," "Bricks In My Pillow" and "Like Wolf" and all the rest. I especially like "I Can Do You Right," which features a big slice of Big Al Groth on sax, driving through a great song with taste and tone. Big Al is the reason why I think all blues shouters really MUST have a great sax player in the band. Another standout song is "PTs Home Cooking," an instrumental with a lot of great cool bass and piano work.

I love the whole cd--the variety and the drive, the upbeat groove. Buy this one for the infectious joy they offer--the Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys are hot and tight and fun. This release came out in 2010. You can buy this cd at

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