Andy Watts – Blues On Fire
Israel based Andy Watts has a steady and heavy hand on his guitar. His band is equally talented and works awesomely as a team. The blues are deep and authentic. The sound is tight and together. This is a musician and band that can deliver the goods!
The band has several stand-ins joining the fray. Andy plays guitar; joining him are Eyal Klien and Niv Hovav on keys, Avi Barak and Moshe Yankovsky on drums, Gregorty Rivkin on trumpet, and Amos Springer, Tom Mochiach and Ilan Hillel on bass.
Things kick off with a big instrumental. On “Full Throttle,” Watts’ guitar is prominent, but the baritone sax by Elad Gellert is throaty and helps drive this bouncy and catchy cut. Klein’s keys also shine as Watts shows us his unique guitar tone and technique. The title track is next and features Joe Louis Walker on vocals ar Andy plays guitar. Klein’s Hammond organ and Demitri Shurin’s sax shine as Walker moans and groans and Watts’ guitar blazes. “Looking For Somebody” is an elegant and thoughtful Peter Green cut with Watts laying out some really cool guitar licks. Hillel sings emphatically as he plays bass and Klein offers more Hammond organ, but it’s Watts’ guitar that impresses most here. “Riviera Paradise” is next, a Stevie Ray Vaughn song with an ethereal intro on guitar and trumpet. Thoughtful and restrained, this is a beautiful instrumental piece. A little jazzy with the trumpet and Klien’s piano, the band show diversity and the ability to stylistically shift with equal intensity.
JJ Cale’s “I Got The Same Old Blues” starts the second half. Roy Young does the vocal work. Gritty and authentic, his vocals scream “I AM THE BLUES!” Ronnie Peterson helps out on guitar, and between he and Watts they deliver a fantastic sound. Klien’s Hammond and Gellert’s sax add nicely to the mix, but Young and guitars are preeminent. Hendrix’ “Voodoo Chile” features Dov Hammer on vocals and harp. Watts’ distorted guitar gives us a cool rendition while Hammer’s vocals are strident and cool. Stratospheric guitar and equally lucid and cool harp work and their trading licks make this a unique cover. The 1971 Jerico Jones cut “Junkies, Monkies & Donkeys” is psychedelic and really cool. The liner notes say to break out your lava lamps and that’s an apt suggestion. Danny Shoshan is on vocals and gives a fine performance as does Klein on keys, Gellert on sax and Watts on guitar. A blast from the past for sure! The album concludes with “Who Knows,” another Hendrix song. Listed as a bonus track, it is a beautiful instrumental. Watts’ lays out lick after lick and Rivkin on trumpet and Hovav on keys reply to Watts’ guitar. The song continues in a psychedelic tone from the last cut, building more and more as the boys lay out a thick and heavy sound. Well done!
When I saw the album cover with the big old sky blue Impala, two gals in short, tight skirts and Watt’s looking like SRV I figured on a big, straight up and overdone rock album. I was wrong. Watts show creativity and variety in his two originals and six covers. Two Hendrix songs, Peter Green, JJ Cale, SRV and the Jerico Jones cut make for a cool and interesting mix. Watts does not shred and plays expressively with air between his notes and thoughtfulness in his picking. The saxes and trumpet are sublime. Klein’s Hammond and pianos are superb on his seven tracks and Hovav is no slouch, either. Adding some nice vocalists with the instrumentals also makes a nice mix.
My only complaint is 8 songs-I want to hear more! Watts and his cohorts play well together and make interesting music. This band from Israel is on fire. I’ve never seen them live and I will certainly keep an eye out for them when they come to America.
They are a fine band and this CD certainly warrants being listened to!