CD: 13 Songs; 75:31 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Blues Humor
As any veteran blues musician might explain, such as San Francisco native Rick Estrin, and his Nightcats, live and studio albums are two different animals. They might be fundamentally related, like the cheetah and the tiger, but pound for pound, one feline’s built for speed and the other for stealth.
Estrin’s newest CD, You Asked For It…Live! sneaks up on listeners like the latter cat, because this band recognizes the true dynamic of live concerts: One can’t count on alcohol consumption or dancing alone to make a crowd go wild. The best showmen have a vivid, continuous rapport with their audience, of which Rick is a grandmaster. He leads into several of the thirteen songs here (ten originals and two covers) with witty backstories, making the audience relate instead of simply smile. Chuckling and playing along with him are guitarist/background vocalist Kid Andersen, bassist/organist Lorenzo Farrell, and drummer/background vocalist J. Hansen. The three tracks mentioned here prove how fantastic a blues humorist Estrin is:
Track 04: “My Next Ex-Wife” – “How many people out here tonight have ever been divorced?” Rick asks the throng at the beginning of a snicker-fest. “I’m talking about the deep-down emotional devastation that goes hand in hand with losing…half your [stuff.] ‘Til death do us part? They came up with that stuff, like, 1000-2000 years ago!” Divorce means loss, but this song’s a winner, replete with ‘70’s funk solos by Kid Andersen and Estrin on harmonica.
Track 11: “Dump That Chump” – Saffire -The Uppity Blues Women added to the fame of this tune in the blues world when they covered it, but it was originally composed by our present heroes (known as Little Charlie and the Nightcats at the time they wrote it). Perky and hilarious, it never fails to amuse. “I won’t lie to you, girls – you’ve been getting bored, sick and tired of being ignored. The man you’ve got don’t appreciate you. Let me tell you girls what you ought to do…” Rick and the audience enter a loud Pavlovian call-and response mode on the chorus.
Track 12: “Don’t Do It” – “Let us not become weary in doing good”, the Bible says, but when it comes to doing what’s good for one’s health, our narrator has become more than exhausted. So has his doctor, who rattles off a litany of nutritional ‘thou-shalt-nots’: “If a rabbit don’t eat it, you don’t need it. That’s the rule for your new menu.” The chorus contains a worse injunction: “If you dig it, don’t do it, and if you like it, leave it alone.” Who knew wickedly-good ‘50s/60s-style rockers could act like such atomic bombs in the face of the health crazes of today?
For blues aficionados who love the roar of hundreds of fans – and their raucous laughter – along with the music, well, “You Asked For It…Live!”