CD: 14 songs; approximately 50 minutes
Styles: Hard Rock, Blues Rock
What do contemporary hard rock bands such as Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine have to do with seminal blues artists including John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Lightnin’ Hopkins? That’s what national touring artist Eli Cook seeks to discover on his latest album, “Primitive Son.” He’s been receiving rave reviews from both critics and fellow blues musicians alike. Renowned artist Tinsley Ellis called him a “triple threat, obviously a great guitarist but also an emotive singer and an innovative songwriter. He’s in the vanguard of young, 21st-century blues rockers!” To be sure, “Primitive Son” leans incredibly far to the ‘rock’ side of this Blues Rock genre. Featuring fourteen original songs, this is a take-no-prisoners follow-up to four previous albums. Blues purists will be hard-pressed to find a traditional note among Cook’s tunes, but they won’t fault him for an absence of energy or electric-guitar explosiveness.
According to the band’s website, “Eli took up the guitar as a teenager in the Blue Ridge foothills of Virginia. Following the tradition of the great blues men, he performed in churches and late-night gospel revivals with only his acoustic and deep baritone voice, while playing every hole-in-the-wall bar that could handle his electric power trio. Blending the influences of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Fred MacDowell, Bukka White and Lightning Hopkins with the likes of Clutch, Soundgarden, C.O.C, and Rage against the Machine, he forged a fresh sound, alive with the southern blues tradition.
“Eli recorded and released his first two albums between 2004 and 2007: the all-acoustic, original-roots album ‘Miss Blues’ Child’ on the Sledgehammer Blues label, and a heavy blues-rock release ‘ElectricHolyFireWater’. During this time he was invited to open for B.B. King on King’s east coast tour. Since then, Eli has shared the stage with Johnny Winter, Robert Cray, Parliament-Funkadellic, Gary Clark Jr., Roomful of Blues and many others. In 2008, Eli released his third self-produced album, ‘Static in the Blood’, a modern R&B/Rock crossover project featuring ornate experimental studio production. The follow up album, ‘Ace Jack & King’, a return to roots-blues and heavy guitars, received critical acclaim. The All Music Guide proclaimed that Eli could be ‘the best blues singer of his generation.’
“In 2013, Eli signed with LA-based label Cleopatra Records to begin work on [this] his 5th studio album, featuring guest appearances by rock legend Leslie West of Mountain, Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd) Reese Wynans of Double Trouble, Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio) and Tinsley Ellis.”
Perhaps “Primitive Son’s” best song is “Be Your Fool,” featuring Rod Piazza on high-flying harmonica. Overall, Cook’s style is loud, brash, experimental, and full of edgy vocals. Eli played a special showcase at this year’s SXSW music festival, opening for the legendary Johnny Winter. He plans a full tour in late spring and early summer to support this release.