Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Nighthawks All You Gotta Do

The Nighthawks
All You Gotta Do
EllerSoul Records

I believe this is the fourth album by the current lineup of The Nighthawks when Mark Stutso replaced Pete Ragusa on drums, joining Mark Wenner on harmonica, Paul Bell on guitar and Johnny Castle on bass. It is another generous helping of blues and roots rock by one of the hardest working bands around with as eclectic a group as songs as they have ever recorded ranging from the opening updating of a Brenda Lee recording "That's All You Gotta Do" sung by Mark;  Willie Dixon's "Baby, I Want To Be Loved"; to Jesse Winchester's "Isn't That So"; to a rowdy rendition of Randy Newman's "Let Burn Down the Cornfield."

Highpoints include Stutso's singing on Larry Campbell's country gospel song "When I Go Away," that served as Levon Helm's personal farewell, his original hoodoo blues, "VooDoo Doll," and a wonderful swamp pop ballad "Three Times Your Fool"; Bell's stunning slide guitar backing on "Let Burn Down the Cornfield"; Wenner's harp and vocal on a rollicking cover of the second Sonny Boy Williamson's "Ninety Nine," his swamp blues reworking of Winchester's "Isn't that So" with marvelous tremolo laced guitar from Bell, and the instrumental recasting of "Frere Jacques" as "Blues For Brother John," with some jazzy playing from Bell; the band's reworking of R.L. Burnside's "Snake Drive" with terrific harp and slide; and Castle's grungy garage rock rendition of the Standell's "Dirty Water," with references to Boston changed to DC and Bell's guitar solo evoking the group, Them.

Other than the range of material, there will be no surprises for fans of The Nighthawks on another solid addition to their large body of recordings.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is an August 2017 performance by The Nighthawks.

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