Saturday, October 24, 2015

Andy Santana And The West Coast Playboys Watch Your Step!

Andy Santana is a triple threat as a singer, guitarist and harmonica player (and he is also a songwriter) whose name will be most familiar to those of the West Coast, but some may have seen his name as a sideman to some albums or perhaps have his independently produced recordings. Anyway his profile will rise greatly with the release of "Watch Your Step!" by Andy Santana And The West Coast Playboys on Delta Groove. The West Coast Playboys include Kid Andersen (who co-produced this with Andy), Anthony Paule, Mike Schermer, Bob Welsh, Rusty Zinn (who penned the liner notes), Lorenzo Farrell and June Core.

While there are a few Santana originals sprinkled in, most of this are taken of covers of songs that have not been cooked and burned to death (no "Sweet Home Chicago" type numbers). Santana is a wonderful singer that sings with a natural, relaxed soulfulness akin to such Gulf Coast legends as Tommy McClain, Warren Storm, Freddy Fender and Doug Sahm. And he brings a distinctive attack to the guitar (Rusty Zinn likens him to the love child of Wild Jimmy Spruill and Johnny Guitar Watson) and his harp playing is terrific.

What a range of material too from the opening swamp rocker by Carol Fran "Knock Knock"; a tasty cover of Bobby Parker's title tune that is modeled on Parker's original recording. It showcases Santana's crisp, biting guitar, and is ably sung (although he is not on Parker's level); "Playgirl," one of two Smiley Lewis songs here, on which he takes both guitar and harp solos (his harp playing suggests some of Papa Lightfoot's recordings); the rollicking "You May Not Know: with a smokin' groove and a performance (with backing vocals) suggestive of Clyde McPhatter and the Drifter's "What Ya Gonna Do"; a song co-written with Rick Estrin, "No Double Talk," with Kid Andersen adding greasy fafisa organ and shattering Ike Turner-styled guitar; and a terrific instrumental, "Greaseland" (named after Andersen's studio) which showcases several of the guitarists. The rest of the performances on "Watch Your Step!" are similarly impressive making for an impressive recording.

I received my copy from Delta Groove. Here is Delta Groove's video promoting this recording.

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