Barrellhouse Chuck And The All Star Blues Band
The Sirens Records SR-5104
Mick Rainsford, Blues in Britain, August 2006
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
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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