Review: BB & The Blues Shacks – Come Along

Posted on: Tuesday, Oct 2, 2012

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BB & The Blues Shacks – Come Along

(CrossCut Records: ccd 11106)

The sixth album on CrossCut by the fine German band, BB & The Blues Shacks, has been out for a good while now, but it would be amiss of us not to give it due mention here. “Come Along” was recorded late last year in Vienna, and it’s a joyous 16-track treat of blues and soul.

Since they were founded over 20 years ago in the city of Hildesheim, the band have been led by the Arlt brothers – Michael on vocals and harmonica, and Andreas on guitar – both at the ‘top of the tree’ in the European blues scene, and the band are completed by long-serving bass player Henning Hauerken – the rhythm section completed by Austrian drummer Bernhard Egger, and the sparkling keyboards of Dennis Koeckstadt.

The album’s full sound is fleshed out by the No Blow No Show Horns, The Shakettes vocal group and guest singer Bonita Niessen. It’s a non-stop blues and soul party full of great grooves and playing and the heartfelt vocals of Michael Arlt – who together with his brother wrote all the songs, with “Come Along” produced by the whole band.

The band are off to a rousing start on the blues shuffle of “True Love In Vain”, with Andreas Arlt’s crunchy guitar riff and solo, his brother’s soulful vocal and the punchy horn section . . . and together with Dennis Koeckstadt’s lovely piano work . . . a wonderful start! They get funky on “Love Like Cash”, with its Memphis soul groove, driven by the stabbing rhythm guitar of Andreas Arlt, and a trademark economical solo from his great-toned guitar.

The sort-of-title track “Come Along With Me” is another uptempo soul belter that fairly rattles along – with gospel-flavours from the backing singers and glorious trumpet solo from Stefan Gossinger. The ballad, “If I Should Ever Lose Your Love” takes the pace right down – it has a classic Southern soul feel to it and is an album highlight and quite beautiful. They return to some rockin’ blues on “Get My Stuff Together” . . . a Texas roadhouse feel here, reminiscent of the early T-Birds, and that can’t be a bad thing can it? A first outing here too for Michael Arlt’s tough harmonica.

“Fool Me” is another uptempo blues with a Louisiana feel to it, driven again by the harmonica and also more exemplary piano from Dennis Koeckstadt; “The Door” is a return to the soulful side of the band’s repertoire and is another gem – mention here for the solid, but unfussy driving rhythm section of Henning Hauerken and Bernhard Egger who are excellent throughout. Andreas Arlt is given full reign on the slow blues of “Anything You Do”, his fierce, but tasteful fills and solos ring out on top of another gripping vocal from his brother.

Elsewhere, “Wait In Line” is a groove and a half of a jazzy shuffle that works for me; the tough swinging blues of “I Don’t Get It” is a joy, with the rhythm section again to the fore; the closing shuffle of “Raise Your Voice” is a fitting end to a great album and epitomises all that has gone before it . . . a band on top form, having a ball on a generous collection of classic blues and soul flavours! Highly recommended indeed.

GRAHAME RHODES

www.bluesshacks.com

www.crosscut.de

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