Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Nighthawks 444

It has been a couple of years since The Nighthawks had a new recordings and EllerSoul has just issued 444. This is the second CD since drummer Mark Stutso joined original Nighthawk, Mark Wenner (harmonica), Paul Bell (guitar) and Johnny Castle (bass) and is a nice mix of blues and real rock and roll that continues the band’s four decades plus musical journey.

The music is a mix of originals and forgotten musical gems such as The Du Droppers Walk That Walk that kicks this disc off on a rocking groove followed by a solid rendition of the Tracy Nelson-Gary Nicholson Living the Blues that showcases Wenner’s formidable harmonica playing along with the crisp instrumental and vocal backing. Castle wrote 444 A.M. which provided the album with its title with Bell adding some rockabilly touches on his solo (reminiscent of Castle’s one-time employer, Bill Kirchen) on a bit of kick-ass rock and roll. Stutso takes the vocal on the impressive bluesy reworking of You’re Gone, a bluegrass original borrowed from Stutso’s brother-in-law.

Wenner’s Honky Tonk Queen comes off as a cross of early seventies Rolling Stones and honky tonk country followed by the hot rockabilly reworking of Got a Lot of Livin’ from Elvis’ movie Lovin’ You. In contrast the rendition of Crawfish, from the film, King Creole, has a swampy feel. Castle sings High Snakes, a moody lament of lost love, that he co-wrote with Bill Kirchen. Stutso provides a forceful vocal on a Gary Nicholson’s Nothin’ But The Blues. Wenner does a straight cover of the Muddy Waters classic, Louisiana Blues, before the album closes with Castle’s lovely country-folk number Roadside Cross that closes this recording on a different musical tenor.

444 is more of a roots recording with country and rock influences mixed with the band’s blues foundations. Solidly played and performed, the appeal of 444 will extend beyond the band’s existing fans to those who love American roots music.

I purchased this as well as subsequently received a review copy from a publicist.  Here is a video of them in performance doing a couple songs from the recording.

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