Review: Tommy Castro and The Pain Killers – The Devil You Know

Posted on: Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014

Castro CD Cover

Tommy Castro and The Pain Killers – The Devil You Know

(Alligator Records)

Tommy Castro on vocals and guitar is backed by The Pain Killers (Randy McDonald on bass, Byron Cage on drums and James Pace on keyboards) and joined by a host of guest artistes across the album’s thirteen tracks, nine of which have been written solely or collaboratively by Castro.

The title track rolls and tumbles into action to set things off, followed by the medium-paced, slightly funky “Second Mind” with Jimmy Pugh on organ and Bonnie Hayes on Wurlitzer piano. Chris Youden’s medium-paced rocker, “I’m Tired”, introduces a heavier beat and boasts a splendid, trademark guitar solo from Joe Bonamassa. The temperature is raised a little higher by “Centre Of Attention” before Tasha Taylor’s vocals add a touch of class to JB Lenoir’s “The Whale Have Swallowed Me”.

The bouncy “When I Cross The Mississippi” has Tab Benoit on vocals and he and Mark Karan on guitar and benefits from some great keyboard work from Mike Finnigan. “Mojo Hannah”, an upbeat rocker with more than a hint of gospel about it, features Marcia Ball on piano and vocals. The equally rousing “Two Steps Forward” is embellished by some tasty harmonica from Magic Dick and excellent backing vocals from the Holmes Brothers.

The slow and brooding “She Wanted To Give It To Me” features a cracking Tommy Castro guitar solo before Mike Duke adds piano and vocals and Mark Karan guitar to the slow and bluesy “Keep On Smilin’”, the longest and arguably best track on the album. The fast-rising Samantha Fish graces the heavier-beating “Medicine Woman” with her very impressive vocals while the medium-paced rocker “That’s All I Got” delivers another superb guitar solo from the album’s main man.

Finally, the spiky-rhythmed “Greedy”, uniquely without a guest in sight, brings the curtain down on a most entertaining performance in which the highly talented singer/guitarist is brilliantly complemented by an array of distinguished collaborators.


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