Review: Robert ‘Top’ Thomas – The Town Crier

Posted on: Sunday, Mar 31, 2013

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Robert ‘Top’ Thomas – The Town Crier

(Wild Roots: CD2013)

Back in the 90s the King Snake label was a real force in presenting blues from the south (of the USA). Singer/ guitarist/ bandleader Robert ‘Top’ Thomas, from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, was a member of the group Smokehouse, who recorded for the label, and he also worked with the likes of sax legend Noble ‘Thin Man’ Watts, Lazy Lester, Bill Wharton, and others. So his credentials are pretty good, and so is this album.

The sound of Louisiana swamp blues is mixed with that of down-home Mississippi very successfully, resulting in a tough but accessible “Florida swamp” approach. There is plenty of wailing harmonica and rocking slide guitar – ranging in style from Muddy Waters to Duane Allman – over a cooking rhythm section for the most part, and Robert’s lived-in vocals certainly suit the songs.

Expect to hear echoes of Lightning Slim, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, a little raw soul, and something of that man Lester and you won’t be too far wrong. Nice to see too that Robert remembers his past – there is even a number called ‘King Snake Crawl’!

NORMAN DARWEN

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