Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rockin' Johnny Burgin Neoprene Fedora

Rockin' Johnny Burgin
Neoprene Fedora
West Tone Records

This new release is a follow-up to "Greetings From Greaseland," and further chronicles Burgin's move to California from Chicago. Like the early recording, this was recorded by Kid Andersen (who plays guitar, bass, baritone guitar and piano on various tracks) at his Greaseland Studio. Others backing Burgin include Ali Kumar on harmonica and a couple vocals; Bob Welsh on guitar and piano; bassist Vance Ehlers; drummer June Core; drummer Stephen Dougherty; saxophonist Nancy Wright and accordion player Steve Willis.

There is a mix of material from the opening title track, an instrumental that bridges blues, surf and Tex-Mex guitar on a tune that deconstructs the melody of Herbie Mann hit "Comin' Home Baby" with Wight's raspy sax adding atmosphere behind Burgin's tremolo laced runs then transitions into a "Night Train" inspired segment segueing into a "Bo Diddley" beat groove with some Chuck Berry styled guitar. This tour de force is followed by a West Side Chicago blues "Guitar King" which suggests Otis Rush crossed with Jimmy Dawkins. Burgin is an amiable singer, if not a great one. He is convincing on "Won't Get Married Again," in the manner of the legendary Eddie Taylor. "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear," has Magic Sam styled guitar with uncluttered backing reminiscent of Eddie C. Campbell.

Alabama Mike wonderfully handles the lead vocal on "Smoke and Mirrors," with its syncopated Byther Smith meets Bobby Rush accompaniment. Mike's other vocal is a nice soul ballad, "I Did The Best I Could," with a bluesy solo from Burgin. Besides the nods to Chicago blues, "Kinda Wild Women" is a zydeco flavored dance number followed by an attractive swamp pop ballad, "Please Tell Me," and "Our Time Is Short" is a waltz that employs the "Jole Blonde" melody. On this musical trip to the bayou, there is solid accordion and rubboard. "Self-Made Man" with shattering Jimmy Dawkins' flavored guitar along with Aki Kumar's reedy singing and terrific full-bodied chromatic harmonica. "I Ain't Gonna Be Working Man No More" brings back memories of the greatly underrated Johnny Littlejohn's "Chips Flying Everywhere," both with the interesting syncopation of rhythm.

"Goodbye Chicago" musically evokes Howlin' Wolf as Burgin sings about why he is going to California and has to put the Windy City down. As the song progresses he recites a list of Blues artists he played with in Chicago, and quite an impressive list it is. Wright takes a terrific tenor sax solo in the manner of Eddie Shaw on this. It closes another fine recording by Rocking Johnny Burgin who displays his deep Chicago blues roots while incorporating other sounds into his fertile musical garden.

I received a download from the artist from which I was able to do this review. Here is a video of Johnny and Ali Kumar performing in Finland.

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