11 songs – 39 minutes
Fronted by the father-son team of “Lazy” Mike and Carson “McKinley Slim” Mallon, the Rockin’ Recliners are a veteran four-piece band from the Canadian Pacific who deliver Chicago blues augmented with touches of the West Coast jump.
Formed about a decade ago and with three previous albums to their credit, they’re based in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Regularly filling the dance floor at venues across the vast island, they’ve worked frequently at major festivals across western Canada, opening for a who’s who of talent, ranging from fellow Canadians Jason Buie, Steve Kozak, Harpdog Brown and Downchild Blues Band to American superstars James Cotton, Duke Robillard, Elvin Bishop and others.
Both of the Mallons handle vocal duties with Mike handling harp and Carson guitar. The vocal mix is augmented by the rhythm section of Evan Matthiesen on drums and Brian Whitty on bass. None of the vocals are credited on the disc. Together they lay down what they consider to be a “fresh spin on lowdown, rockin’ blues.”
“Mr. Green Jeans” opens with a simple drum-and-harp pattern, but quickly evolves into a medium-fast jump instrumental. One of four opening originals and seven in the set, it features a mid-tune solo from Carson and sets the stage for what’s to come. The guitar-driven “Money Talks” is up next with every musician’s lament: “They say that money talks/How come it never talks to me?” Mike handles the central harp solo before yielding to his son.
The slow, walking title tune “Workin’ Man” describes the plight of someone who rises before the roosters to begin his day before the swinging “Blues Business” asks the question “where do you go” to get your business done. A pedestrian cover of Little Walter’s familiar “Just Your Fool” leads into the original rocker “Waiting For Something To Break” before giving way to another cover, “Hide Away.” The Recliners attempt to turn the Freddie King standard into a guitar/harp song with mediocre results.
Fortunately, the next original, “Harvest Rye,”quickly sets things straight as it sings the praises of a type of whisky. The band dips into the catalog of country music superstar Hank Williams for rapid-fire version of “Mind Your Own Business” before two more originals — “Shufflin’ In Nanaimo”and “Pichu” — bring the action to a close.
From the opening chords of Workin’ Man, you’ll know you’re listening to the efforts of a hard-working bar band. There’s plenty of good-time music here despite a few flaws within the covers. Available through CDBaby.