Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Mannish Boys Strong Retro-Blues

Delta Groove has issued a new release from The Mannish Boys, Big Plans. A smorgasbord of blues players and styles, the main featured players are vocalists Finis Tasby and Johnny Dyer with support from the likes of guitarists Frank Goldwasser (Paris Slim), and Kirk Fletcher, pianist Leon Blue, bassist Tom Leavey and drummer Richard Innes with guest appearances from Jody Williams, Rick Holmstrom, Mitch Kashmar, Rob Rio and Larry Taylor. There is a mix of covers and originals that are well played and performed. Certainly its a delight to hear the West Coast blues singing of Tasby whose world-weary sound adds to the appeal of his reworking Long John Hunter’s Border Town Blues, while I Get Worried, is a moody late night T-Bone Walker blues with Kid Ramos laying in crisp T-Bone guitar runs, and Roy Hawkins’ Why Do Things Happen to Me? is a charged rendition of the great West Coast singer who had the original The Thrill is Gone. Chicago singer Bobby Jones handles an original shuffle by bassist Leavey, Mary Jane, with producer Randy Chortkoff adding some Jimmy Reed-ish, high register harp, along with a moody reworking of Howlin’ Wolf’s Memphis recording, California Blues, into a slow-drag blues with Fletcher taking lead on guitar and Kashmar adding some choice harp. Johnny Dyer covers Muddy Waters’ recording, Just to Be With You, and its well played if adding little to the original, while Leon Blue does Homesick James’ Got to Move, with Goldwasser adding solid slide in the Homesick James vein as Leon Blue tinkles the ivories and delivers a strong vocal, again modeled on James’ original, and Jody Williams recreates his Groan My Blues Away, with an amiable if unspectacular vocal, but his vocal on Chortkoff’s Young & Tender, is more compelling against the atmospheric backing he receives. In contrast, Chortkoff’s rendition of his Mine All Mine has too busy an accompaniment and a weak vocal (certainly in comparison to the other performers here). Even if much of this hardly original, it is delight to hear this done so well at a time with bluesy rock is seen by some as an innovation. While hardly essential, few blues lovers will have any complaints to acquiring this disc.

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