Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Solid Smokin' Joe Kubek and B'nois King

I have had a fondness for Smokin' Joe Kubek and B'nois King since first becoming aware of them with their association with Rounder Records and its Blullseye Blues subsidiary in the 1990s. The pair has always had strong bands and their contrasting guitar styles as well as B’Nois King’s soulful blues singing make them a strong act to listen to and see live. The following review dates from 2004 and appeared in Jazz & Blues Report, and the review copy was most likely provided by the Blind Pig Label.

The pair of Joe Kubek and B'nois King continue to lay down some strong blues tracks with their latest Blind Pig release, Show Me the Money. Kubek's muscular and incendiary guitar playing is complemented by King's soulful vocals (suggestive of a cooler Otis Rush) and his own jazzier guitar comping and soloing. While one gets a sense of a rock feel to this music at time, perhaps a result of Kubek's tone at times, yet they never stray from the blues perhaps because of the solid and never overstated rhythm section. The album is full of solid new slow blues and shuffles including the cautionary She Can Smell Another Woman, where B'nois warns one that one day he is gonna slip up and she will sense when he has another woman and "you'll lose her and your girlfriend and wind up all alone." My Heart's in Texas is a rocker with as King songs about some places he's been and while he's seen Big Ben in London, his heart's in Texas as Kubek takes off on a short concise solo. Burnin' to the Ground has a funky little groove with a lyric about about a love that was too hot and high and came crashing down with some hot slide from Kubek who is quite capable of playing sheets of sound with his guitar but knows when to lay out. In fact this is reflected by the fact that the longest tracks here extend to slightly more than 4 1/2 minutes. There is plenty of passion invested into these performances, but they play with intelligence and keep their performances focused and concise resulting in this first-rate cd.

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