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CD Review
"Got My Eyes On You"
Barrellhouse Chuck And The All Star Blues Band
The Sirens Records SR-5104
Mick Rainsford, Blues in Britain, August 2006

Blues CD Cover Art Steve Dolins has done an invaluable job in helping to preserve the traditions of blues and gospel piano via his The Sirens Records label – his latest two releases continuing that mission with sets that have a decidedly Chicago flavour.

Barrelhouse Chuck has been playing the blues professionally for over 25 years, recording for a plethora labels – featuring on two previous releases on The Sirens – the compilation CD '8 Hands On 88 Keys’ and his solo release 'Prescription For The Blues’.

On this set Chuck pays tribute to his mentors Sunnyland Slim and Little Brother Montgomery, whilst also recognizing artists who have had a profound influence on his love for the blues, by the choice of songs from the likes of Detroit Jr, Big Moose Walker, Memphis Slim, Floyd Jones et al. To further enhance the authenticity of this set, Chuck has chosen musicians whose roots are steeped in tradition, hence the names of Kim Wilson, Joel Foy, Eddie Taylor Jr, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith appearing in the All Star Blues Band. The set opens with Floyd Jones’ 'Floyd’s Blues’, powered by Wilson’s fat-toned harp and Chuck’s Sunnyland Slim inspired double-fisted piano pounding. Sunnyland’s 'It’s You Baby’ is a stomping blues featuring Chuck’s booming vocals and Wilson’s wailing harp – even Detroit Jr’s 'Call My Job’ is performed Sunnyland style replete with rollicking piano, muscular guitar (Foy) and powerhouse vocals.

Memphis Slim’s 'Mother Earth’ is a moody blues where Chuck’s brooding vocals are mirrored by cascading piano and tantalizing guitar from Eddie Taylor Jr, who takes the lead vocals on his father’s classic 'Big Town Playboy’ which is powered by Chuck’s pulsing bass lines. Smokey Smothers’ 'Got My Eyes On You’ is performed Lonnie brooks style with broodingly intense vocals and harp, strident guitar and percolating Farfisa – Chuck switching to organ on 'The Bright Sounds Of Big Moose’, Taylor’s introspective guitar weaving a web of blues over which the organ scurries giving the number a funkily soulful 'Green Onions’ feel.

'Cleo’s Mood’ features a master-class in phrasing, pitch and tone from Kim Wilson, Foy adding some wild and compelling guitar licks – Foy’s buzzing guitar leads the way on his own 'Red River Rumba’ – 'Mama You Don’t Mean Me No Good’ is a wonderful melancholy tribute to Little Brother Montgomery – whilst Chuck’s Spannesque piano and Wilson’s Little Walter styled harp ensure that Floyd Jones’ 'School Days’ has a distinct Muddy feel. That leaves Chuck’s own 'Iza Mae’ which has a distinctive string-band feel as his bouncing piano is accompanied by Foy’s acoustic guitar and some wonderful mandolin and fiddle from Gregg Rodriguez.

Whilst Chuck is still plying his trade, blues piano will continue to thrive and the memory of Sunnyland Slim, in particular, will live on. Copyright © 2005 The Sirens Records, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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