Big Jake Records – 2016
11 tracks; 60 minutes
Paul Filipowicz returns with his ninth album, recorded live on home territory in Madison, Wisconsin. The all-original program finds Paul on vocal and guitar, accompanied by Benny Rickun on harp, Brian ‘Tito’ Howard on drums and Rick Smith on bass. The general style is tough blues with Chicago influences and the band sets out its stall on the opening “Gambling Woman” with Paul’s guitar high in the mix, Benny’s harp at times struggling to be heard. The rocking “Black Spider” works well with Benny’s harp acting as a counterweight to Paul’s chunky riff. The extended “Santa Fe Windows” is a slower tune with some solid guitar in the opening section which elicits some appreciative ‘whoops’ from the crowd before allowing Paul the space to show us some Hendrix licks.
One of the issues will be whether you enjoy Paul’s gruff vocals; for this reviewer the pounding instrumental “Junk In The Trunk” works as well as anything here but on “Jackson Transfer” (introduced by reference to Muddy Waters) Paul’s vocals become indistinct. Based round a riff that sounds a lot like “Feeling Good”, “Midnight At The Nairobi Room” offers a second instrumental and Paul channels John Lee Hooker on “Chickenwire” on which Benny plays some tough harp against Paul’s riff. Paul’s echoey guitar and Benny’s harp mesh together very effectively on “Hootin’ And Hollerin’” and on the final cut “Where The Blues Comes From” Paul gives us his definition, an extended tune with plenty of space for Benny and introductions for the rhythm section.
Paul’s fans will enjoy this album which seems to give a clear impression of what his live shows must sound like. Those who like their blues served up ‘rough and tough’ will also find something to enjoy here.