Full Force Music – 2015
8 tracks: 35 minutes
Pennsylvania’s Sterling Koch plays Texas style rock-blues on lap steel guitar. On his seventh album Sterling plays lap steel and regular guitar as well as handling all lead vocals. With him throughout are Gene Babula on bass and b/v’s and John Goba on drums: Co-producer Bret Alexander adds rhythm guitar to one track, Bob Wagner keys to two and Jack Kulp plays harp on one cut; Jennifer Dierwechter sings backup on one track. Seven of the tunes are credited to Sterling, three in collaboration with Freida Gannt, with one cover.
Credited to Sterling, opener “Shake ‘Em On Down” is at the very least a close relative of Slim Harpo’s “Hipshake”, both lyrically and rhythmically. Having said that, it is a very enjoyable piece with the trio augmented by Bret’s rhythm guitar and Jack’s harp, leaving Sterling to produce some amazing sounds on his lap steel. “Sugar” has Jennifer’s backing vocals on a tune with more of an Americana feel. As ever there is plenty of razor-sharp lap steel work and that is even more so on “Good To Go” which was possibly this reviewer’s pick of the tracks here with its rocking core riff and exciting steel work: no added rhythm guitar here so what you hear is clearly Sterling overdubbing his steel on top of standard guitar. “Leavin’ Me With The Blues” drops the pace for a stately blues ballad with strong break-up lyrics, Sterling keeping the lap steel low key and Bob’s organ providing great support.
Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Crossfire” is the only cover though the sleeve reminds us that SRV was not one of the five writers of the song. The familiar tune has Sterling’s slide work replacing SRV’s licks and his vocal is solid. “I’m Packin’ Up” finds Sterling playing some Elmore James style riffs on his lap steel, Bob’s piano adding extra propulsion to the tune. We then get some rock and roll on “Comin’ For Your Love” which is terrific fun and certainly sounds like a tune that would work brilliantly live before Sterling closes the album with the appropriately titled instrumental “Last Call” which fades in with bar room noises before settling into a chugging rhythm over which Sterling plays some slide that reminded this reviewer of Duane Allman’s work on the “Layla” version of “Key To The Highway”.
Fans of slide guitar will really enjoy this disc. This reviewer certainly did though would have liked a couple more tunes to fill the album out. Nevertheless, this one comes with a ‘recommended’ tag.