One of the most popular blues bands anywhere is Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials who will be appearing at two of this summer’s top blues festivals this summer, the Pennsylvania Blues Festival and the North Atlantic Blues Festival (my previews of the festivals are linked). The review of the band’s Full Tilt appeared in the September 2008 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 308). This is the last Alligator album they have released.
Blues fans should have no trouble enjoying the latest Alligator disk, Full Tilt, by Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials. The album, their eighth for Alligator is another hard-driving, rocking set of slide-guitar blues in the vein of Ed’s uncle J.B. Hutto and Hound Dog Taylor. Ed and The Blues Imperials—guitarist Mike Garrett, bassist James “Pookie” Young, drummer Kelly Littleton—are celebrating 20 amazing years together.
Full Tilt certainly describes how the band plays, starting from the driving Hold That Train that kicks this off. They hold nothing back on this collection of 11 originals from Ed, another by his bassist James Young, and interpretations of songs by Hound Dog Taylor and Smokey Robinson. Housekeeping Job is a nice funky tune with some saxophones added to the recording, while some rollicking piano can be heard on the hard rocking Don’t Call Me. Check My Baby’s Oil, is a slow blues reminiscent of some of J.B. Hutto’s tune with imaginative automotive-based double entendres, while Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, is a jaunty blues with a melody that evokes High Heel Sneakers.
Another striking original is Dying to Live, with some nice organ from Johnny Iguana behind Ed and his forceful vocals. Open Invitation is another easy rocking slide guitar blues, while the closing rendition of Hound Dog’s interpretation of Take Five, is a blistering close to another disc that can be easily be recommended to both Lil’ Ed’s many fans and anyone who likes solid slide guitar blues.
I received my review copy from Alligator Records.