By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
"I got a new way of wearin' my hair/I got a smile on my face and you didn't put it there." When you hear those words from your lover, you pretty much got the blues. Not just the tears-in-your-beer blues, mind you, but the appetite-stealin', sleep-snatchin', I'll-try-anything-even-voodoo-to-win-her-back blues. And that's what Joey Gilmore serves up with exquisite pain and a lifetime full of hardluck tales on Can't Kill Nothin', his latest album and first release for the independent blues label Ichiban.
From the menacing slowburn of the title track to the hilarious "I Don't Have to See Blood" to the mandatory sing-along with the chorus of "Someone Else Is Steppin' In," Joey can't seem to catch a break. He does, however, seem to give grief at least as well as he takes it, as displayed on the blues standard "Breaking Up Somebody's Home." A tough cover of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "A Real Mother For Ya" broadens the scope from the personally devastating to the socially reprehensible, including a line about mothers not being able to afford milk for their babies, set to a hard-groovin' urban vamp that sounds like the chaos of rush-hour traffic.
But Joey parties down, too, explaining his blues credo on "Still Called the Blues": "Party on Saturday/Go to church on Sunday/Fall down on my knees 'cause I got to go back to work on Monday." And "Blues House Party," with its goodtimes background chatter ("Let's go see what the band's doin'"), ends Can't Kill on a celebratory note.
Gilmore's singing is stronger than ever, inhabiting a neighborhood with an address close by shouters such as B.B. King and Little Milton Campbell, but certainly not imitative of either; in fact, this album refutes anyone who would dismiss Joey as B.B. Klone. The bluesman's guitarwork is tasty if unflashy, emotive without going over the top A you won't confuse him with Buddy Guy or Albert Collins. Backup vocals, too, are subtle and unobtrusive, lending a smooth, cool counterpoint to Joey's heated lead. Underlining organ riffs supplied by Reginald "Wizard" Jones, and punctuating horns A trumpet, tenor and baritone sax -- also lend their voices to the mix.
Recorded at KALA Studios in Atlanta and produced by veteran Stax soulman William Bell (in fact, the album was released by Wilbe Recording Corporation, Bell's own concern and a subsidiary of Ichiban), Can't Kill may not be the breakthrough to stardom for longtime SoFla bluesman Gilmore, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. Bell's influence is deeply felt, from adding the trademark Memphis horn sound to scribing three of the album's cuts, including "I Don't Have to See Blood" and the title track.
Despite the subject matter, this album will do more to chase away your blues than bring you down to curb level. And after all, that's the point to singin' (and listening to) the blues.
While sauntering past Stephen Talkhouse one night, a drunk and disorderly scribe from a local weekly publication thought he overheard a particularly tasty folk-rock-blues pastiche emanating from within. He paused by the door to listen, amazed that anything could penetrate the haze filling his skull, let alone a blues band fronted by a pair of distaff singers with voices big enough to shout down the Norway as it sliced through nearby Government Cut.
"Must be from Chicago, or Memphis, or N'awlins," thought the besotted music writer aloud.
"Orlando," corrected the Talkhouse doorperson.
Yup. The Implications, blues-beltin', string-poppin', harp-blowin' R&B warriors from Mouse country.
Turns out they've got a CD that does a pretty fair job of re-creating that powerful live show at the Talkhouse. While acoustic rhythm guitar plays a more significant role in the mix on the disc than it did live, the basic infectious spirit, propulsive percussion, and twin siren attack sound every bit as fresh as the wobbly wordsmith remembered them. But what he didn't remember, because he was too far gone to make 'em out, was the lyrics -- sassy, sardonic, and original. No twelve-bar, my-woman-done-left-me exercises.
"Once I drove to San Antonio just to get a fresh beer/But I didn't drive to my granddaddy's funeral 'cause I wanted to remember him here/Don't like flying, need more under my feet than air/But if I could fly to you I'd sprout wings on a dare," goes a representative refrain from "Beholding You."
No need to drive to San Antonio next time, gang. Plenty of beer right here. Not to mention a writer or two who'd gladly help you find it.
The Jeff Prine Group
The Jeff Prine Group Live
By Bob Weinberg
With more shuffles than a three-card monte hustler, the Jeff Prine Group tricks the face card through eleven hard-boogyin' tracks on this live recording. Prine's pristine guitar leads, Bobby Freeman's charging Hammond B-3, and John Russ's way-after-midnight piano noodlings make for a romping road trip through Kansas City swing, back-alley Chicago blues, and deep South dirt-path rambles.