Review: Trickbag – With Friends Vol. 1

Posted on: Sunday, Jul 21, 2013

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Trickbag – With Friends Vol. 1

(Magic CD 0005)

Here’s a wonderful, star-studded release, from Trickbag, who have long been Sweden’s leading blues band. As well as touring extensively themselves they have backed a host of top bluesmen on Scandinavian visits, many of whom ended up in the studio in Stockholm and feature on “With Friends Vol. 1”, recorded between 2008 and 2013.

The core of Trickbag is larger than life frontman Tommy Moberg on vocals, and his longtime musical partner, bass player Lars Nasman – both of them award winners in their native Sweden. Most of the guitar duties are handled by the dynamite pairing of Anders Lewen, and, from Finland, the excellent Tomi Leino . . . both truly great and expressive players.

The guest list is most impressive, with harmonica aces James Harman, RJ Mischo, Steve ‘West’ Weston, Bob Corritore, and Lynwood Slim present, together with a vocal from John Nemeth, and the ace piano of Chicago’s Barrelhouse Chuck, not forgetting fellow Swede, Sven Zetterberg on vocals and harmonica . . . wow, that is some cast list! Together with past and present Trickbag members the whole cast combine to make a truly exceptional album of many flavours of the blues.

The music is uniformly excellent from start to finish, with our very own Steve ‘West’ Weston’s tune “Do What You Want” up first, with the man himself on piano as well as his trademark super harmonica playing, and sharing the vocal with Tommy Moberg, with riveting baritone guitar from Anders Lewen, and Tomi Leino also present. The legend that is James Harman shines on Mack Simmons “Come Back”, and also his own ‘off the wall’ “Waitin’ On The Moon” . . . apparently penned in just 45 minutes, and featuring some Latin-flavoured guitar from Lewen and ‘Icepick James’ never less than impressive harmonica.

RJ Mischo is present on a brace of tunes – both penned by Anders Lewen –  “Get Up”, which rides on a nice funky groove between the guitar and Mischo’s harmonica; and also the storming, swinging “It’s Your Life” . . . kudos here to the great bass and drums of Lars Nasman and Per Norin . . . RJ’s chromatic harmonica and vocals right on the money. The only track not recorded in Stockholm is a live version of the chestnut “That’s All Right”, taped on a small video recorder at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, California, with Lynwood Slim sitting in on  harmonica and vocals, not long back from serious illness. It’s quite wonderful with again, a lovely groove and feel to it.

To be honest all the other tracks are worthy of mention, but standing out are the driving “Talk Back”, with more harmonica fireworks from Steve Weston, who also takes the vocal, again driven in fine style by the Trickbag rhythm section and the twin guitar team; the giant of Swedish blues, Sven Zetterberg shines on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “The Goat”, with nice piano from Fredrik Von Werder; and a closing stormer in the shape of “Scandinavian Stroll” as the guitars of Leino and Lewen spar and both solo on this gem of an instrumental to close this super album.

Needless to say, this comes highly recommended for all lovers of some pure ‘retro-flavoured’ swinging blues by a cast of great players from Europe and the USA . . . a joy from start to finish . . . as the album  subtitle says, “Houserockin’ Rhythm ‘N’ Blues” indeed!



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