Review: Boo Boo Davis – What Kind Of Shit Is This?

Posted on: Sunday, Jun 1, 2014

front cover B&T 040.jpg

Boo Boo Davis – What Kind Of Shit Is This?

(Black & Tan: B&T 040)

Boo Boo Davis started out on Black & Tan as a big-voiced blues singing drummer, sounding more than a little like Howling Wolf – in recent years though his releases have become more experimental, and this release certainly is. The title – to be heard at the beginning of ‘Half A Rap’ – is actually what Boo Boo said when recording this session, recalling Wolf’s “dogsh*t” comment when Chess tried to make his music psychedelic. This release will be similarly contentious.

The session began with Boo Boo recording his vocals and harmonica playing before Blu Acid – producer/ guitarist/ label boss Jan Mittendorp and producer/ guitarist Mischa Den Haring – added their musical contributions, creating what Black & Tan calls “high voltage electro blues” (and adding that Boo Boo is happy with the end product). The opener ‘Back In The Woods’ starts off conventionally enough, Boo Boo’s voice way out front as he sings about how he used to sing the blues back in his home state of Mississippi, riding a powerful boogie rhythm, though some curious noises creep in after a minute and a half or so, resolving themselves eventually into an electronic rhythm that then disappears.

So far, it’s OK! ‘Blues On My Mind’ recalls the mighty Wolf both in the vocal delivery and the riff it rides, and though the “modern” touches are there, they are not very intrusive. ‘Bring Back My Baby’ is perhaps more the kind of thing the publicity leads us to expect – a fine shuffle blues, with plenty of gruff vocals and wailing harp is pushed along by an electronic rhythm and handclaps. This may upset purists but there is no real reason – it is different, yes, and it may lack the interaction and subtlety of a band, but it does still allow Boo Boo to do his thing (admittedly though, if you take Boo Boo out of the equation, I would probably be far less enthusiastic!)

‘Half A Rap’ is a self-descriptive title and has more of the producer’s direction and “electro” sensibility than what has preceded it. ‘Let Me Love You Baby’ opens with some banjo picking before shifting into a portentous sounding blues combining old and new, whilst the lilting ‘Love Me All Night Long’ and ‘Plane Station’ both lean towards soul music, albeit with the electronic touches already mentioned.

As the album progresses, tracks like ‘The Rope’ begin to sound perfectly natural, despite the juxtaposition of down-home singing and harp-blowing with techno backings and the occasional blues-rock guitar work, so that by the time the album closes with ‘What You Got On Your Mind’ – one of the most unconventional numbers of the set – the ears have begun to get used to the sound.

This album is more successful than I expected. That seems to be mostly down to Boo Boo and the strength of his vocals and harp playing, along with the musicians who, despite the modern trappings, are still in sympathy with the blues. My kids have told me that they do much prefer this CD to what I usually play…


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