Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The 44s -- "Americana"

Lately I've been looking back over the music I've heard this year, with an ear towards working on my end of the year top 12 or 15 or 20--that list will be posted here on December 27. One of the cds I've really liked was the 44s "Americana." I am actually surprised that I didn't review this cd in this space back in April or May, but it's amazing how many times I keep finding this cd in my car cd player.

So consider this a make-up review. The 44s started up in 2007 in Los Angeles. This is the 44s' second cd, after "Boogie Disease," and it is on City Hall Records. The band is Johnny Main (vocals, guitar), Tex Nakamura (harmonica), Mike Turturro (bass), and J R Lozano (drums). This time out the 44s have Kid Ramos in the producer chair, and he also plays guitar, and Rob Dziubla also guests on horns on several songs. 10 of the 13 songs here are originals--they also cover Howling Wolf's "My Highway Man" and Willie Dixon's "You'll Be Mine." 

The flavor of the cd is West Coast and Chicago blues, and these guys get every detail absolutely right, communicating sizzling blues on track after track. I love the way Johnny Main and Kid Ramos weave the vocal and their guitars around the harp work by Nakamura over the great rhythm work by Turturro and Lozano. The opening track, "Hanging Tree" starts things off with a great boogie, and the next two numbers, "Lady Luck" and "Cocaine," (not the JJ Cale song, by the way) just keep that great vibe going. "Dixie" is an all-too-short rockabilly romp, and "Hard Times" is a standout--really good vocals, and guitar, and harmonica. The band does justice to the covers, and they burn the place down with "99 To Life." And when they unleash Dziubla on horns, on "Hold On," the intensity is off the charts.

Highly recommended. This is a really good cd by the 44s, and I look forward to their next one. They play the old blues with authenticity and passion, and they update the sound with soul and taste. The 44s remind me of another West Coast based band that does Chicago blues very well--a band called the Insomniacs, on Delta Groove Records--and that is a big compliment. With really good music coming out like this, I am optimistic about the future of the blues.       

You can buy this cd at http://www.the44sband.com

No comments: