Review: Super Chikan – “Sum’ Mo’ Chikan”

Posted on: Monday, Nov 17, 2008

SUPER CHIKAN
“Sum’ Mo’ Chikan”
(Chikan Howse Records, VizzTone Label Group: CH001)

The fifth album from Clarksdale, Mississippi bluesman Super Chikan, born James Johnson, is an uncomplicated, simple straight-ahead blues offering, dominated by his scratchy guitar work and turbo-charged solos – on his ‘chik-can-tars’ – his individual and ornate gas can and broomstick instruments, as well as conventional guitars.

He has a sunny, positive outlook on life and the blues, and this release is full of humour, but far from a novelty item – his nickname originating from when, as a young boy, he tried to talk to chickens and understand them – his musical education being in the form of masters such as Jimmy Reed, Elmore James and Lightnin’ Hopkins, to name but a few, eventually performing with his uncle, Big Jack Johnson, and other Mississippi bluesmen such as Sam Carr and Frank Frost.

Twelve, sometimes lengthy, tracks kick off with a Freddie King tribute in the shape of “Freddy’s Thang” – mainly like the classic track “The Stumble”; followed by the fine “Crystal Ball Eyes”, with some expressive guitar work; and “Hookin’ Up” with its nod to the late, great John Lee Hooker with its strutting boogie riff and some yodelling thrown in for good measure, with a dip into “Boom Boom”.

The pace is taken down on the epic slow blues of “Yard Dog Blues” – featuring some nice piano from Laura ‘Lala’ Craig; before a trip south of the border on “Mexico City” – a rollicking mid-tempo shuffle, with a Mariachi feel! The funky feel of “Full Moon Blues” is another standout as Chikan and band drop into a soul/blues groove – very nice too!

“Peter Truck” sees Chikan in Elmore James territory with some slashing slide guitar work and the rolling “Love Cruiser” is an ode to his car one presumes, with a most amusing set of lyrics – again beautifully played by the band, particularly the piano work again.

One for all blues purists – as said previously, a simple blues album, nicely played by all concerned which I would imagine will ensure for a great night out or festival set if you were catching him and the band live!

GRAHAME RHODES

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