Review: B.B. & The Blues Shacks – Businessmen

Posted on: Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014


B.B. & The Blues Shacks – Businessmen

(CrossCut Records: CCD 11108)

Although it has been out a few months now it would be amiss not to say a few words about the seventh release on CrossCut Records from Germany’s B.B. & The Blues Shacks – as one of Europe’s finest blues bands hits 25 years, and some 3,000 gigs! The band are still led by founder members, the Arlt brothers – Michael on harmonica and vocals, and Andreas on guitar – accompanied by long-time bass player Henning Hauerken; the line-up completed by Dennis Koeckstadt (keyboards) and Jochen Reich (drums).

“Businessmen” is well up to the band’s usual high standard and was recorded in Vienna towards the end of last year, with the 15 tracks featuring all originals, bar one cover . . . and as ever comprising of a broad span from roadhouse blues, soulful struts, and some funky edges and more . . . all making for a most enjoyable ‘journey’. Fleshing out the sound are the tremendous three piece horn section, The No Blow No Show Horns, who are present on all tracks bar two. They comprise: Tom Muller (tenor & baritone saxophone), Stefan Gossinger (trumpet) and Martin Grunzweig – with all the arrangements by Muller.

A swirl of organ from Dennis Koeckstadt kicks off the chunky opener, “Out Of Tears”, with the punch horns to the fore; the soulful groove of “Take My Name” is another early treat with lovely clipped guitar from Andreas Arlt and the rhythm section of Hauerken and Reich right ‘on the money’. The title cut, “Businessmen”, again rides on a nice funky vibe with some tasteful harmonica from Michael Arlt and trademark class vocal performance.

The jazzy swing of the instrumental “Buckle Up” contains some nice sparring between Koeckstadt’s organ playing and the guitar of Andreas Arlt, and the number recalls the work of the Hammond greats such as Brother Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith; the whole band hit a Texas roadhouse shuffle for the rousing “Pardon Me”, led by some tough harmonica and the driving rhythm section – a standout amongst many tracks here, with the band absolutely cooking – Dennis Koeckstadt with sparkling piano on this.

Elsewhere the sole cover, John Brim’s “It Was A Dream”, pays due reverence to the original; “Green Eye” is a soulful number with shades of the classic Booker T & The MGs. The pace is taken up for the penultimate track, “Blues Shadow”, with an acoustic guitar intro giving way to some lovely electric playing from Andreas Arlt and again it features the lovely punchy sound of The No Blow No Show Horns.

As previously noted B.B. & The Blues Shacks continue to one of the finest outfits in Europe and needless to say “Businessmen” has class written all over it, and comes highly recommended.


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