Bad Influence – Got What You Need
This Mid-Atlantic blues band has what it takes to be a great band. They write great new songs. They play well individually and together. They take covers and make them their own. Bad Influence is a great band with talented musicians.
Featuring two lead singers in Roger Edsall and Bob Mallardi, they offer up their talents to intrigue the listener. Esall also plays harp and slide guitar. Mallardi is the bass player except on the second original cut where Tash plays. Michael “JR” Tash is on guitars and David Thaler is on drums. Mary Shaver and Tom Swanton add vocals to the final original cut. Ray Tilkens adds his guitar on a Chuck Berry tune and organ on the title track.
Tash formed the band thirty years ago, This foursome he has now assembled has been together since 1993. It shows. These guys are together and are renowned on the East Coast as both a band and individually. They have played on stages with a variety of stars and musical dignitaries. They also hold their own as a band and deserve accolades. I’d never heard them before but became a convert by listening to this album.
The title cut “Got What You Need” is a driving cut with a great groove. A sweet original, Edsell and Mallardi deliver the vocals effectively and the stinging, tight guitar solos also sweeten the pot as does the harp solo. The trade off on vocals and nice interplay make this one a winner. “Lid Flippin’ Short” is a hopping cut that gets you dancing. Another nice original, the beat is hot and the deliver impressive. The guitar solo is cool and not overdone as Edsall slips and slides with effectiveness. The thrid of four originals follows, “Male Man.” The harp leads off the cut with some dirty blows. The song is full of puns and double entendres which make it fun. The tempo drops from the prior cut and vocals are rough-hewn and gritty. The harp is featured here and it’s another winner song and then we get a big guitar solo to make it even better.
“My Little Girl” is a James Harman tune and it is well done. Dirty vocals, nice guitar work, and a driving snare beat make this one also a winner. “Party Party” is up next, a swinging William Clarke tune with excellent harp work throughout. The har and then guitar solos are again sweet. The final original is “Nuthin’ Less Than A Dime,” another cut with a huge guitar solo and then an equally impressive harp solo. The guitar stings and harp plays with abandon as the band gives them a funky groove. Chuck Berry’s “Wee Wee Hours” takes Berry’s slow blues and turns the tempo down further into a slow and somber blues tune. It’s impressive. The vocals and guitar transform the listener with the passion and transmit sexual energy.
“Don;t You Mess With My Toot Toot” is a Rockin’ Sidney Simien cut with a nice NOLA sort of sound. The band gives it a gumbo flavor. The harp starts the solo and is followed by guitar, both offering up cool little solos. Little Walter’s “My Babe” gets a straight up cover and the boys do it well. James Brown’s “I Feel Good” gets a transformed cover with a big turn down of the tempo, making the song into a slow swing tune instead of a funky soul tune. It works and they sell it well. The guitar then harp get featured time up front and help to sell this one.
Samuel Smith’s “I Can Tell” was first covered by Bo Diddley in 1962. The band gives it a little more energy and and delivers a fine, new rendition. The guitar solo is long and well done. “Eyesight To The Blind” is a classic Willie Sonny Boy Williamson tune and Edsall blows some mean harp in his honor. Tash gets a turn on guitar, too, and show us what he can do, too. The vocals howl and the song blends into a sweet cover. Things end with “Blue Midnight,” another Little Walter tune done in memory of John “Taco” Gabral. Here the bass and then guitar intro the cut and the harp eventually comes in after they set the mood. It’s somber like Walter’s version, but offers up a little different feeling; I liked it a lot.
This is a great album and it celebrates 30 years of these guys playing together and understanding how to interact as a band. The work is tight and they know what they need to do to support each other. I’d love to hear these guys live- this CD shows us what they are made off and I bet every one of their live shows is a winner. I thoroughly enjoyed this album!