Review: Rick Estrin And The Nightcats – One Wrong Turn

Posted on: Monday, Jul 9, 2012

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Rick Estrin And The Nightcats – One Wrong Turn

(Alligator Records: ALCD 4950)

Here’s a thoroughly entertaining second Alligator Records release from Rick Estrin And The Nightcats . . . who of course evolved from long-time Alligator band, Little Charlie And The Nightcats . . . with writer, singer and harmonica player Rick Estrin’s name going out front after guitarist Little Charlie Baty’s retirement from the road. On “One Way Turn” the Californian-based four piece deliver a strikingly original album based on Estrin’s brilliant writing – streetwise and as cool as ever – and with no lack of often dark humour!

Apart from Rick Estrin on vocals and harmonica, the band consist of: Chris ‘Kid’ Andersen (guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals), Lorenzo Farrell (bass, organ and piano) and J. Hansen (drums, percussion and vocals), with some stellar additional musicians including Doug James, Chris Barnes, Jack Sanford  and Terry Hanck. The album was produced by Rick Estrin and Kid Andersen at his Greaseland Studios in San Jose, California.

A trademark blast of Rick Estrin’s always fine harmonica kicks off the opening “D.O.G.”, a less than complementary ode to a particular lady . . . it’s a rumba influenced tune with Kid Andersen’s guitar and whammy bar to the fore as well. The pace is kept up on the excellent “Lucky You”, with an almost jungle rhythm from J. Hansen’s drums and more masterful harmonica work from Estrin . . . who is definitely among the current leaders of the modern players.

“Callin’ All Fools” has a nice jazzy swing feel to it, with some spectacular chromatic harmonica from Estrin, and some funky organ grooves; it’s followed by the fun of  “(I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise” . . . a ribald tale of  hi-jinks on the high seas and some of the ‘pleasures’ of the trip . . . with hilarious name checks for some fellow bluesmen onboard – check out the video for this if you can! The band lock into a swampy cajun feel for the lovely “Movin’ Slow”, with Estrin’s lyrics reflecting the pace of the song, with some fine saxophone from Jack Sanford.

The tough title cut, “One Wrong Turn” again locks into a fine groove, with Andersen’s clipped guitar and more tasteful organ and lovely vocal harmonies from the whole band. The Hansen/Estrin song, “Desperation Perspiration” is another gem, with a high funk quota again, and Estrin’s street-wise vocal and harmonica shining.

Bass player Lorenzo Farrell shines on organ for the instrumental “Zonin'”, a jazzy shuffle, with the saxophone of Terry Hanck also prominent, and brilliant guitar solo from Kid Andersen. Hailing from Norway, Andersen had massive shoes to fill after Little Charlie’s departure, and joined the band from a stint with Charlie Musselwhite to feature on the last album, “Twisted”, and he is a truly brilliant player of many styles.

Elsewhere, “Broke And Lonesome” has a tough Chicago feel, with Andersen’s playing recalling the legendary Magic Sam; drummer J. Hansen takes the vocal on his own stomping “You Ain’t The Boss Of Me” – also featuring top solos from Estrin and Andersen. This great release ends in truly spectacular form with the crazed 6:43 instrumental “The Legend Of Taco Cobbler”, penned by Kid Andersen and featuring his whole armoury of licks . . . evoking ska, surf, mariachi, spaghetti westerns and more . . . it captures the band in one song – brilliant playing but always with a fun quota!

GRAHAME RHODES

www.rickestrin.com

www.alligator.com

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