Review: R.J. Mischo – Knowledge You Can’t Get In College

Posted on: Friday, Oct 8, 2010

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R.J. MISCHO
“Knowledge You Can’t Get In College”
(Greaseland Records – GR 20923)

The Minneapolis-born R.J. Mischo – one of the current blues scenes finest harmonica practitioners – with a string of strong releases behind him, has come up trumps with his latest, “Knowledge You Can’t Get In College” – co-produced by Kid Andersen, who also features on guitar, as a member of a crack band. The songs being a mix of hand-picked covers and several Mischo originals.

R.J. Mischo first came to prominence with a band featuring Teddy Morgan, he later recorded for the prestigious German label, CrossCut, and he eventually relocated to San Francisco where he became popular on the live scene – he now resides in Fayetteville, Arkansas – however this album was recorded back in California, at Greaseland in San Jose, in a mere two days!

Apart from the afore-mentioned Kid Andersen, the rest of the band include the great Rusty Zinn sharing the guitar duties, Sid Morris (keyboards), and the rhythm section of Kedar Roy (upright and electric bass) and June Core (drums). Mischo’s superb harmonica work is on top form here, with his chromatic work being of the highest order, as evident on the opening road tale, “Two Hours From Tulsa”, a driving funky blues, also featuring the sparkling guitar work of Kid Andersen.

The 14 tracks here span many different styles, all laced with R.J. Mischo’s dry humour and his passionate voice – from the jazzy chromatic-led shuffle, “Too Cool For School”, where Kedar Roy’s thumping bassline and some June Core’s drums standout, with tasty solo on organ from Sid Morris; the lengthy title cut, with Andersen showing his versatility by playing organ; and the jungle rumba of “Little Joe”, with Lisa Leu on backing vocals.

Rusty Zinn’s guitar growls on the tough “Ain’t Nothin’ New”, with Sid Morris’s tinkling ivories leading the charge on the rockin’ “Ruthie Lee”, from the pen of Roosevelt Sykes. Morris switches to organ on “Please Don’t Leave”, a Big Lucky Carter song, with an eerie echo on the vocal and standout solo from Zinn.

Elsewhere “Teacher’s Pet” is a harmonica showcase for Mischo, a tour-de-force of styles in under three minutes, with plenty of space again given to the band for solos; “Rich Cat” is a marvellous swing number, with typical dry Mischo lyrics. The band get downhome on “Devil’s Love Sin/The Wrong Man”, penned by Walter Vinson and Mojo Buford, with Kid Andersen’s guitar on fire here.

The cover of “Down To The Bottom” comes with ‘vinyl LP simulation’ as the cd cover puts it, advising listeners that there is nothing wrong with their sound system, with Sid Morris’s piano to the fore. This great album closes with a trip down to ‘N’Awlins’ for the late, great Snooks Eaglin’s “Mama Don’t Tear My Clothes”, complete with some really sweet harmonica, and another Zinn solo . . . perfection in just two minutes!

Heartily recommended not to just harmonica fans, but all lovers of honest, straight-forward blues . . . nuthin’ fancy, just great players who seem to be having a ball, and great songs!

GRAHAME RHODES
www.rjblues.com

www.myspace.com/rjblues

www.greaselandrecords.com

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