CD: 15 Songs; 55:41 Minutes
Styles: Horn and Harmonica Blues, Blues Rock
Is the blues an art or a craft?
One couldn’t speak of blues ‘artists’ if it weren’t an art, and one couldn’t talk about ‘musicianship’ or ‘showmanship’ if it weren’t a craft. The best blues performers are not only great onstage, but afterwards, they’re savvy “Businessmen.” This CD is the seventh album by B.B. and the Blues Shacks, based in Hildesheim, Germany, released by CrossCut Records.
It’s a fantastic follow-up to Come Along, which was reviewed for Blues Blast Magazine in November of 2012. The Blues Shacks consist of vocalist/harp player Michael Arlt, his guitarist brother Andreas Arlt, Dennis Koeckstadt on piano/organ, bassist Henning Hauerken, and new drummer Jochen Reich.
In fifteen songs, fourteen originals and one cover, they prove once again that they’re the ‘CEO’s’ -Crowd Excitement Officers – of big-band blues and blues rock. With them are the No Blow No Show Horns, accompanying on all but two tracks (numbers five and ten). Tom Müller plays tenor and baritone sax; Stefan Gössinger plays trumpet, and Martin Grüzweig plays trombone. The following selections show how far they continue to advance toward musical perfection:
Track 02: “Gimme This, Gimme That” – We human beings know there are certain things we say out loud, and certain things we keep to ourselves. We also know that from time to time, we’re tempted by the Almighty Dollar, but most of us prefer to hold our greed in check. The narrator of this song doesn’t: “Whatever you do, you ain’t pleasing me. I just want you to be my money tree. Oh, at least I break it down; I won’t leave you. Go ahead, just gimme this; gimme that.” Michael Arlt’s harmonica solo will burn a hole in listeners’ ears.
Track 04: “Businessmen” – Almost a 180-degree departure from “Gimme This”, “Businessmen” reveals to what lengths scrupulous people won’t go to grab some dough: “I’d rather collect bottles from a garbage can than run a company that ain’t my serious plan. It’s for sure I don’t make a good businessman.” The highlight here is Andreas Arlt’s down-to-earth guitar intro and refrain, as catchy as a cold.
Track 09: “Who’s Crying Now” – This song is not to be confused with a hit by Journey of the same name, but it’s a power ballad nonetheless. It features full-band ferocity right from the get-go, especially the horn section and Michael Arlt with his finest vocals. “You think you’re gonna leave me?” he laments. “Well, you’re sure you won’t come back? Well, the last time you were leaving, you came and crawled into my shack.” The tables have turned in a romance that’s failed the second time around. Nevertheless, couples won’t fail to take the dance floor on this one.
In the last two years, B.B. and the Blues Shacks have demonstrated that they’re superb artists and craftsmen all at once – in short, keen “Businessmen”!