Blind Pig Records 2014
13 tracks; 62 minutes.
Jimmy Thackery certainly needs no introduction to readers of Blues Blast! During his time on Blind Pig he produced seven albums, three of which are now out of print. The tracks here are all culled from those three albums and the set therefore makes a good companion to the previous compilation of his BP material, “The Essential Jimmy Thackery” (2006). The albums involved here are “Empty Arms Motel” (1992 – 4 tracks), the live “Wild Night Out!” (1995 – 4 tracks) and “Switching Gears” (1998 – five tracks). Jimmy is a constant on guitar and vocals, as is Mark Stutso on drums who also sings lead on two tracks from the live album. Bass on the two earlier CDs is Wayne Burdette and on “Switching Gears” Michael Patrick replaces Wayne and Al Gamble adds keys. Chubby Carrier plays accordion, Zack Patterson rhythm guitar and Reba Russell background vocals on one track each.
From 1992’s “Empty Arms Motel” we get four covers that show some of Jimmy’s influences: Lowell Fulson’s “Honey Hush” is played pretty straight with a good vocal from Jimmy, “Lickin’ Gravy (George ‘Wild Child’ Butler) is a lengthy slow blues with plenty of guitar bends and some suggestive lyrics and “Rude Mood” allows Jimmy to revisit his affection for SRV’s guitar style with a frenetic rhythm and plenty of Texas twang on the guitar. The fourth selection is “Love To Ride” by Keith Sykes which has a great chugging riff at its centre which suits Jimmy well and is one of the standout tracks here.
“Wild Night Out!” caught Jimmy in his natural habitat on stage and combined material from his recent albums on Blind Pig with some classic blues. The four cuts we get are a driving version of BB King’s “You Upset Me Baby” on which Mark Stutso sings lead, as he also does on “Flyin’ Low”, another song by Keith Sykes, this time in collaboration with Swain Schaefer. Jimmy’s insistent riff carries the tune along as Mark sings of troubles encountered while having a quiet drink in a bar. The other two selections are the title cuts from two of Jimmy’s albums, “Trouble Man” and “Empty Arms Motel”, both Jimmy’s compositions. “Trouble Man” is classic Jimmy with its immediately catchy riff and screaming guitar; “Empty Arms Motel” is more upbeat in rhythm but not in subject matter: “At the Empty Arms Motel you can get the blues for free.” The tune works round Jimmy’s core riff with Zack Patterson’s second guitar adding some nice embellishments before Jimmy cuts loose in his solo.
“Switching Gears” saw a wider palette of sounds from Jimmy with added keys; later albums would see Jimmy Carpenter’s sax added too. Another change is that all five selections from “Switching Gears” are originals and two strong cuts from this album bookend the CD. “Write If You Find Love” is a good choice for the opener with the B-3 providing warm support for Jimmy’s convincing vocal and superb solo; “Monkey” closes the CD with an exciting rocker which owes much to Chuck Berry; the track is so hot that it is hard to believe that it is a studio recording! “I Got To Be Strong” finds the band cooking up a rhumba rhythm with some fine piano and guitar fills between lyrics. Chubby Carrier’s accordion brings the sounds of the bayou to “Take Me With You When You Go” as Mark sets the mood with his New Orleans style drums. “I Wouldn’t Change A Thing” is a heartfelt and dramatic ballad with an emotional guitar solo that builds well to a great climax.
As there are no new tracks here long-time fans of Jimmy will not need to investigate this release but for anyone who started off with “The Essential” this makes a good addition to their Blind Pig era JT collection.