After taking a slight detour towards an unplugged recording on their Delta Groove debut, Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King have a new release for Delta Groove, Road Dog's Life. Returning to their fiery electric blues, they are supported by Willie J. Campbell on bass and Jimi Bott on drums with appearances by Kid Andersen on guitar and Randy Chortkoff and Kim Wilson on harmonica (and vocals). The mix of Kubek's husky guitar with King's jazzier playing and soulful singing (evocative of Otis Rush) continues to have considerable appeal. Kubek can rock the blues with the best of them, yet he always remains anchored in the blues with his well structured solos. King's singing can bring out a laugh as well as get down to the heartbreak one will experience.
On this, they mix in originals such as the opening Big Money Sonny, K9 Blues, the title track and Nobody But You (with Wilson and Chortkoff adding vocals on this title), with a couple of surprising covers. Big Money Sonny is an amusing tale about a gambler who (loves the dice and cards) has a nice marriage by convenience and handles everything in cash with some outstanding guitar. In contrast Come On In, Bnois welcomes back a lover that he tells her he won't be upset when she leaves because that is her style. The two have some nice unison playing during the short guitar breaks. With Wilson and Chortkoff adding harp and trading vocals with King, King leads them singing how much they want their lady in Nobody But You. Its a terrific shuffle with Campbell and Bott being terrific.
The title track, penned by Kubek's wife Phyllis, is a nice blues-rocker about the ins and outs of being a road dog that is a blues performer's life. Things start poor for King on K-9 Blues, as King's fiancé complains about his eyes wandering, calls him a dog, and sets him free since he doesn't deserve a good woman like her. Wilson adds harmonica on this with more strong blues guitar. That Look On Your Face is enlivened by a Tex-Mex accent (again Campbell and Bott are stellar). A change of pace is provided by covers of George Harrison's Don't Bother Me, and The Stones Play With Fire, as King providing his own take on these renditions along with Kubek's crisp playing featured. Chortkoff adds harmonica to the latter number.
Throw in the rock and roll of I Ain't Greasin' (with Kim Wilson) and the Muddy Waters' inspired Talkin' 'Bout Bad Luck (on which Kubek plays lap steel) and one has another first-rate addition to Kubek and King's recordings.
I received a review copy from Delta Groove. Here is a clip of Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King in performance.