Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leo Hull & The Texas Blues Machine-- "Bootleggin' The Blues"

Leo Hull has been playing the blues in and around Dallas Texas since the early 60s, and that road-won experience and wisdom shows in every song of "Bootleggin' The Blues," Leo &  The Texas Blues Machine's fourth cd since 2003. All nine songs here are Leo Hull originals. The band backing Leo's singing and guitar are all authentic Texas blues road dogs, including Buddy Whittington on guitar, Ron DiLulio on keyboard, Jerry Hancock on bass, Larry Randall on saxophone, and Chuck 'Popcorn' Lowden and Warren Dewey on drums. In the words of the immortal Donald 'Duck' Dunn from The Blues Brothers movie, "these guys can turn goat piss into gasoline."

And the songs here are not goat piss. Leo Hull writes and sings like a man who has watched the world with a sharp eye for a long time, and his observations are spot-on. The title track is a biography wrapped around riffs from Stevie Ray and Jimmy Reed. "The Hustle" name-checks Jimmy Reed and tells a cautionary tale: "Jimmy was a hustler, hustle you for a dime....he brought a gun to a knife fight, now that boy's doing time." "Road Hard" is a hot rockabilly boogie tune which has Hull boasting "Yeah, it's good to be on the road, man, trying hard to be number one," while Whittington fills between vocals with a sweet silvery tone. "Blowtorch Baby" is a boogie number featuring Larry Randall's hot saxophone. The next three songs, "Whiskey And Women," "The Road," and "Pistol 69" shine a light on different elements of the good and bad of being on the road and away from home. "Running Away Again" is my favorite song here--it balances great guitar work by Whittington and great saxophone work by Randall with good lyrics and fine singing by Leo. This one is reminiscent of early George Thorogood but better. Things wrap up with "Between You And Me," which takes a fond look back over years of playing and says "If you ain't played the blues in Texas, then son, you ain't played the blues."

A very fine cd, and every song is solid and authentic. You can buy this cd here: http://thetexasbluesmachine.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Omar & The Howlers -- "i'm Gone"

I have been meaning to write a review of this great cd ever since it came out back in June, but something was always coming up. I'd listen to it and get about halfway through, and then have to stop listening and do something else. I love the music--I've loved all of Omar & the Howlers music since I first heard them in 1981--but finally today I get to write about them.

You should get this cd, (and the even newer cd from the band "Too Much Is Not Enough" which came out yesterday) and here's why: after 50 years Omar Kent Dykes is still making great music. His singing and guitar playing are take-no-prisoners tough, and his songwriting is still super cool. It has been 8 years since the last new cd from Omar & The Howlers, and these both have endless grooves and great musicians playing great music. Like Casper Rawls and Derek O'Brien on guitars, Ronnie James and Bruce Jones on bass, Mike Buck and Wes Starr on drums. This lineup is Texas All Star quality. There are blues songs, rockabilly songs, ballads, rockers, country songs, but everything has that special Omar spark of quality. Great music.

Here's what you need to do--go get this cd, and after you've heard it a few times, go back to the store or the website and get a couple more Omar & The Howlers cds. Repeat as often as necessary until you have a shelf full of their music. Listen to them often. You will thank me.

This cd is on Omar's own label, Big Guitar Music, and you can buy it at http://www.omarandthehowlers.com/