Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tommy Castro's Commanding Blues Revue

One make suggest that it is presumptuous for a varying traveling blues show to call itself “The Legendary Blues Revue” given that few if any of the performers on it deserve the stature of being a legendary performer. The revue grew out of shows that Castro organized as part of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises which also included Castro and a varying cast of performers doing some tours as the Revue. While the Legendary is more marketing and reflects the tie-in with the popular Cruise, there are some of the more popular ‘blues artists’ such as Tommy Castro, whose band is the anchor of this revue. This tour has been documented previously on Delta Groove with Command Performance which featured Castro, Deanna Bogart, Magic Dick and Ronnie Baker Brooks. Alligator now brings us Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue -- Live!

On this disc Castro is represented on this the most as a featured performer, while more other performers are featured than the earlier CD, although only for a track by each. Castro opens with some hard rocking numbers from the Cruise, his own
Wake Up Call, and Bob Dylan’s Gotta Serve Somebody, with plenty of almost over the top guitar, sax from Keith Crosnan and a tight band. Michael Burks is heard on an extended performance from the Kansas City club, Knuckeheads, of his Voodoo Spell. It sports a solid vocal reflecting Albert King’s influence, a lengthy guitar solo from Burks and a nice piano solo from Tony Stead. Up next is a solid performance by Joe Louis Walker of a song by the late J.J.Malone, It’s a Shame, backed by Castro’s band minus the leader.

Castro is on guitar for Sista Monica’s strong performance of her
Never Say Never, perhaps my favorite selection in this CD. More strong piano and organ backing here from Tony Stead. With Kid Andersen on guitar, Rick Estrin provides his own take on a relation gone bad on My Next Ex-Wife. I was pleasantly surprised by the brothers and sister band, Trampled Under Foot with their Fog, that shows they are more than a novelty act. Bassist Danielle Schnebelen is an impressive  vocalist. The old Five Royales classic Think is interpreted by Janiva Magness, perhaps in a rendition more influenced by James Brown’s recording, but the performance doesn’t quite fully jell to these ears. Theodis Ealey takes us down a bit on chitlin circuit with his soulful blues, This Time I Know, followed by strong Debbie Davis performance, All I Found.

There are a couple more performances by Castro to round this album out, with the closing
Serves Me Right to Suffer, paying his respects to John Lee Hooker, starting as a slow dirge-like blues before picking up an ‘endless boogie’ groove. Its a fun performance if not a compelling one. It ends over an hour of performances that should appeal to the Blues Cruisers, fans of Castro and of the other artists especially. Alligator also provides web-links of the artists on the cd booklet of the artists that hopefully listeners will explore of artists they get introduced here to.

My review copy was provided by Alligator Records

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