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Backroom Blues Volume Five - A Blues Compilation Album Simply Cannot Get Any Better Than That - The Grouch
Album Review by The Grouch | Sweden
Hej America! It is a sunny afternoon here in central Sweden and I thought to myself it is a great day to listen to some blues! Then again, when isn’t is a good time for the blues?
Personally, I think the blues is the quintessential American art form. There are a lot of great blues bands all over the world, but I always come back to a video I saw in which Buddy Guy absolutely took Mick Jagger to school (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVj8Sh4phzM). The Stones are great, but there is simply no comparison with the raw energy and talent of a mu-sician like Buddy Guy. So, it is with this raw emotion in mind I cue up this, the latest install-ment of Bongo Boy’s Backroom Blues series, Backroom Blues Volume Five.
Track 1 - Mike Gallemore - Fantasy 4:24 - Man! What a blast of power hits the listener square in the face with the opening guitar screams. This man is wicked! The voice is melodic and the band is in the pocket, but what really hits me is that smoking lead! Can music get any cooler than this? This is exactly why kids all over the world picked up and plugged in.. This man can do magic with six strings. I hear the drummer back there playing on the ride which the man does his thing - tell me that drummer doesn’t have a big goofy grin on his face. WOW!
Track 2 - Big Chris & D'Bare Bones Band - Girl In The Window 3:39 - Oh yeah! I dig that slow grind. It is almost evil sounding as the power chords blast out. As cool as the music is, I am truly disturbed by the lyrics. I think that is Big Chris’ point. He is spotlighting a deadly serious and tragic phenomenon, child abuse and neglect. Chris, I feel guilty for enjoying the music so much as you succinctly describe the abuse suffered by the Girl in The Window. This is a very powerful piece of music.
Track 3 - Bob Birthisel - Blues Conversation 5:41 - Man oh man, I dig the bass laying down an utterly cool bottom while the drummer just grooves. The background singers add to the old school vibe and the guitars wail. I am guessing from the lyrics that one is a Les Paul and one is a Stratocaster. The organ jumps in with a very nice jam that makes me smile and then the gui-tars are back front and center. I could literally listen to these two trade licks all day long. I find myself wishing I was in this band. Guys, do you need a harp player?
Track 4 - Inches From Sin - Can't Help Me Now 3:55 - I first heard this band on another Bongo Boy album and am glad to see they are back. This is sweet! The basic yet powerfully raw gui-tar combined with some truly fantastic vocals hit the sweet spot as the rest of the band comes in. The drummer has a funky thing going on while the the keys fill out the edges of the song and the bass just puts its foot down. Then those vocals - good God - this is the definition of SOUL. I am simply blown away as that voice grooves and the ax man makes it scream in the background. I love it when I can tell the musicians are playing for themselves - these guys, I am sure, would sound this way alone in an empty club or in front of 15,000 people.
Track 5 - Katja Rieckermann - Buckaroo ft. Joe Bonamassa 5:15 - Oh yeah! I love horns! This song is funky and sultry at the same time. I dig the beat and am memorized by the horns. That lead, is it a sax?, it just smokes in a laid back way. I have that goofy grin I get when I am so into the music I just have to move. Then the guitar with the effects hits me like a freight train. My God, that man can make some noise! This track simply oozes cool. Folks, you need to buy this album if only to hear this track.
Track 6 - Bob John and Kevin - I've Seen The Light 3:41 - First off, this is the best name for a band I have heard in a long time! I dig the raw sound. This is kind of a cross between Garage Rock, Gospel and Blues - I dig it. This actually reminds me of something the old MC5, the heavy bass and the raw yet masterful guitar backed by thundering drums, would have done. (That is a complement guys.) The funny thing is that as I was writing this my laptop com-plained about needing to be plugged in and as I ran to find a cord I found myself singing “I’ve seen the light, well I’ve seen the light.” Well done guys, you have gotten into my head.
Track 7 - Barb Maxey - Since I First Met You 3:22 - Welcome to the world of cool blues! This is a very cool jazz influenced piece of work with just enough lightning and organ jams to re-mind the listener that this is the blues. The thing that really stands out, at least to me, is the incredible voice of Barb Maxey. Don’t misunderstand, the band are all excellent players and the guitar solo moves me, but those vocals - wow. They are so incredibly hot, if it were any more smoking Bongo Boy would censor my review. Barb has an amazing voice.
Track 8 - Slim Chance & The Gamblers - The Last To Know 5:20 - I dig the ride cymbal and bass as the rest of the band builds momentum - almost like a shark circling its prey. Before you know it, the shark strikes and the listener finds himself in the middle of a massive jam. This band masterfully adjusts their volume, going from soft to loud and back to soft again. The softer sections of the song actually serve to build the intensity that culminates in a massively powerful onslaught by the guitars. Then they tone it down and the bass takes over - after a wickedly cool bass line that leaves the listener breathless - BOOM the band is back at full vol-ume for a blistering ending.
Track 9 - hooyoosay - Down Home Girl 3:14 - This song reminds me of the early Rolling Stones. I really like the guitar and the drummer reminds me of Charlie Watts, not a lot of flash, but spot on and in the pocket. This song simply grooves. The harp, for me, is the icing on the cake. This is a really good song.
Track 10 - Johnny Charles - Stinger 3:13 - Good God, Jimi Hendrix is back from the grave. I love well used feedback and then we go into a surf groove with some wicked blues licks laid over the top. These guys are having a blast and it comes through in their music! I really want to see their live show. If these guys jam this much in a studio, what in the world will it sound like when they are live and pull out all the stops?? By the way, nice break at the end. Tell me you didn’t put that in there just because you could? Too cool guys, too cool.
Track 11 - Bobby Rue - Leave The Past Behind You 4:45 - Bobby Rue! One of my favorite
Bongo Boy artists. I first heard Bobby on another Bongo Boy album and would love to see
Bongo Boy release a full album of Bobby’s work. The thing about Bobby is he has a great sense of humor that comes through in some of his songs, but then there are other songs, like this one, in which it is clear that Bobby is simply a very talented musician. Bob, your music has made me laugh with you and has also, as is the case with this song, moved me emotionally - in short, you are a good player and I would love to jam with you someday.
Track 12 - Blind Dawg Ben Miller - Blues Put Da Devil In Me 3:15 - Before even listening to this track I am excited. I mean what a cool name for a musician and could there be any more of a blues sounding title than “Blues Put Da Devil In Me”? I dig it. The music is slow and grinding. Ben has a killer blues voice and I am a sucker for slide guitar! Good God, that guitar and his voice - WOW - the drone of the bass and hypnotic beat are simply spellbinding. I am speechless. I want to hang with you brother!
Track 13 - BUCK69 - The Best Place 4:00 - Man, this is gold! This guy can play guitar like a demon. I am simply blown away. Is that a bit of a Skynyrd vibe I hear? I have the same feel-ing that I had the first time I heard Skynyrd live. All I could think is, “Wow, and these guys are opening the show? Sucks to be the headliner tonight.” BUCK69 must scare every band that comes on after them. I know I would not want to go on AFTER this.
Track 14 - Revis Johnson - My Gun 4:40 - The wicked blues are alive and well in Revis
Johnson. I LOVE the guitar. Revis has a great blues voice and I really like the background
singers. Revis, I dig your lyrics. I agree fully. Saying guns kill people is like saying spoons make people fat. Rock on man! I’d like to see you open for Ted Nugent.
Track 15 - Bob John and Kevin - 9 to 5 Prison 4:32 - They are back for another track and they do not disappoint. The music still reminds me of the MC5. If you like HEAVY music that has a groove and blistering guitar you will like Bob John and Kevin. I know I am becoming a fan!
I find myself keeping time with the drummer and humming the chorus.
Track 16 - Bobby Rue - Old Sneaker Blues 5:05 - Bobby is back with some traditional blues. Excellent song Bob, I dig the harp! This is such a memorizing track that is nothing but emo-tion.
I really could listen to this track over and over each time focusing on a different instrument. The harp has my attention, but the guitar is trying to edge him out. Then the drummer comes in with some accented notes and says “Hold on boys, listen to me.” Really the way your band moves from competition to cooperation is interesting, for me personally, to listen to. This song simply flows and it flows well.
Track 17 - Big Bone Daddy - All My Time 5:10 - Big Bone Daddy is one of my all-time favor-ite Bongo Boy artists who I also think should have their own full album. Dad can simply jam. I mean every member of this band is an excellent player. The music is spot on and moving - the vocals are fantastic. I am, for some reason, reminded of Procol Harum when I listen to this track. This is simply a beautiful song.
Track 18 - The Yardbirds - Sitting On Top Of The World - Could there be any better way to close this album than a live track by The Yardbirds? This is a legendary band and this track is a legendary cover. The song, I believe was recorded in the 1930s and later covered by Howlin’ Wolf as well as Cream. This version is an excellent example of classic blues based rock and a perfect example of how the British took an American art form, repackaged it and brought it back to America where it was more easily accepted by a white audience. The Yardbirds are a fantastic group of musicians who perform this song exceedingly well.
So, the bottom line folks is that this is truly a fantastic album and one that I am glad I have in my personal collection. A blues compilation album simply cannot get any better than this.
The Grouch | Sweden
Album Available Direct via Bongo Boy Records and at many online retailers:
iTunes, CDBABY, AMAZON and many others
WEB PAGE: https://bongoboyrecords.com/backroombluesvol5/