Review: The Mannish Boys – Shake For Me
Posted on: Thursday, May 13, 2010
THE MANNISH BOYS
“Shake For Me”
(Delta Groove Music: DGPCD137)
The fifth album from the all-star blues collective, The Mannish Boys, once again reaches the high standards we have come to expect from Randy Chortkoff’s California-based Delta Groove and Eclecto Groove labels, indeed he formed Delta Groove as a vehicle to put out music by The Mannish Boys – whilst keeping to the pure roots values of the music, performed by a group of musicians in the top division of the blues.
The core of the band on “Shake For Me” comprises Finis Tasby, Bobby Jones, Kirk Fletcher, Frank Goldwasser and Chortkoff himself, with a new rhythm section in the shape of Willie J. Campbell (bass) and Jimi Bott (drums). The guest list here is truly mouthwatering, most from the Delta Groove roster, and, deep breath required, are . . . Rod Piazza, Johnny Dyer, Mitch Kashmar, Lynwood Slim, Arthur Adams, Kid Ramos, Nick Curran, Mike Zito, Fred Kaplan, Rob Rio, Andy Kaulkin, and European representation in the shape of The Backbones frontman, singer and harmonica player, Pieter ‘Big Pete’ van der Pluijm . . . phew!
The music itself, over a generous 16 tracks, is a joy from the opening guitar salvo from Nick Curran on “Too Tired” to the closing “Way Down South”, a song from the late Lester Butler of The Red Devils, admirably covered by Big Pete. Most of the vocals are taken by the ‘elder statesmen’ Finis Tasby and Bobby Jones, with Johnny Dyer pitching in as well.
As mentioned, the album gets off to a rollicking start with a rousing “Too Tired”, highlighting Finis Tasby’s great voice and the sparkling guitar work of Nick Curran. Fast-rising Mike Zito shares the vocals and guitar duties on a medley of “Mona” and “Willie And The Hand Jive” leading into a sublime take on Lowell Fulson’s classic “Reconsider Baby” – with just a great feel and groove, and another Tasby vocal and Fred Kaplan’s tinkling ivories.
Two personal favourites feature just duos – the Jimmy Oden / Otis Spann tune “Half Ain’t Been Told”, with just Bobby Jones impassioned vocal and the piano of Rob Rio, emulating the Otis Spann lines; and the kick-ass “Number 9 Train”, with some plain dirty downhome guitar tones from Frank Goldwasser, who takes the vocal, and Jimi Bott’s driving drums – superb stuff indeed. West Coast harmonica legend Rod Piazza is on top form on a classy “Last Night”, one of the best known Little Walter songs.
The horns of David ‘Woody’ Woodford and Lee Thornburg swing on Ray Charles “Hey Now”, another sterling Bobby Jones vocal here and more piano magic from Fred Kaplan and killer guitar solo from Kirk Fletcher. Nick Curran and Fletcher tear it up on the swinging instrumental “The Bullet”, with the two guitarists sharing the solos with Kaplan, and it’s driven along by the top notch rhythm section of Willie J. Campbell and Jimi Bott.
The pace is taken down on the long, rambling slow blues, penned by Randy Chortkoff, and featuring his own harmonica and some dynamite chromatic work from Lynwood Slim; Arthur Adams dominates his own “Raunchy”, taking the lead vocal and two guitar solos on this funky blues, leading into the Muddy Waters classic “Champagne & Reefer” – another harmonica ace, Mitch Kashmar, impressing here, with Johnny Dyer sound authentically Muddy-like on the vocal.
This cracking release ends in fine style with Holland’s own Pieter ‘Big Pete’ van der Pluijm doffing his cap to his hero Lester Butler on “Way Down South” – his big voice and harmonica ably assisted by Kid Ramos’s customary brilliant guitar and Andy Kaulkin’s piano. Hopefully we’ll hear more of him on the next album!
As ever with Delta Groove / Eclecto Groove releases, this fairly burst out of the speakers – a beautiful sounding album as ever, with Jeff Scott Fleenor handling production duties on his own for the first time, well done to him! I would love to see this project hit our shores, come on festival promoters, get to it for next year!