Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nick Moss's Invigorating Chicago Blues

Writing about Nick Moss & the Flip Tops, Bill Dahl notes that they simultaneously preserve and advance the Chicago blues tradition. “Yet youthful vitality and imagination thunders from their sound, boding well for their future and that of the idiom itself.” Listening to the double CD by this group, Play It ‘Til Tomorrow (Blue Bella) one quickly realizes that this isn’t faint praise. There are two discs. One is an electric recording while the other disc is an acoustically oriented unplugged one. What is most striking is how strong the ensemble playing is throughout. The Flip Tops are a band whose whole is much more than the sum of the individual parts. At work listening to this, this writer first thought this was a Magic Slim disc I had purchased. Then I looked and realized it was Moss & the Flip Tops. Like Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Nick Moss & the Flip Tops have a tight sound and get a similar chugging rhythmic groove going. Also Moss’ stinging guitar evokes the playing of Jimmy Dawkins. Eddie Taylor Jr. guests on several tracks, while Moss handles the vocals. He also plays some harp in addition to guitar, with the Flip Tops backing him throughout. The Flip Tops are: Willie Oshany (ex-Legendary Blues Band) on keyboards (bass for a few tracks), Gary Hundt on bass (guitar for several tracks) and Bob Carter on drums. Moss is heard mostly on originals that sound like they are covers of unissued Chess or Vee-Jay recordings as well as interpretations of Luther ‘Georgia Snake Boy’ Johnson’s Woman Don’t Lie, Lefty Dizz’s Bad Avenue (sounding like Magic Slim on an uptempo reworking of this) and Floyd Jones’ Rising Wind. Its refreshing to hear a band handle this material so well and so-idiomatically and without any showboat guitar gymnastics. The acoustic disc is equally good as Hundt adds harp and mandolin and the original material suggests Muddy, Jimmy Rogers and Tampa Red. Barrelhouse Chuck guests on one of these tracks as well. This is among the best new releases I have heard in 2007 and most highly recommended.

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