Steve Howell and the Mighty Men – Friends Like Me | Album Review

stevehowellcdSteve Howell and the Mighty Men – Friends like Me

Out Of The Past Music

www.stevehowell.ws

10 tracks

Steve Howell and his friends cover ten songs that are important to him and his band.  Howell sings and plays acoustic and electric guitar, Chris Michaels plays electric guitar, Dave Hoffpauir is on drums and Jason Weinheimer is on bass.  Howell tells a story about each song in his notes on the gatefold CD cover.

“Another Friend Like Me” inspires the album title and is a Jesse “Baby Face” Thomas cover.  Howell notes he’s been playing it for 40 plus years after hearing it done by Roy Book Binder.  An electric guitar groove sets the tone here. “Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues” is next, a Bukka White cut.  A song about White’s hometown, there is a couple of pretty electric guitar solos featured here. Charley Patton;s “Elder Green is Gone” originally was recorded at Paramount Records in 1929.  The pair of guitars play off each other nicely here.  “Oh, Lord, Search My Heart” is a Reverend Gary Davis song that inspired Howell over 40 years ago when Hot Tuna covered it.  “Little Sadie” is a rockabilly little traditional song.  A haunting lead guitar and contrasting rhythm guitar sets this song off.  Howell really excels in the more uptempo vocals.

“Roustabout” comes to us from Josh Thomas who recorded this at 80 back in 1970.  Originally a banjo piece, the acoustic guitar give a haunting rendition and the electric guitar provides an equally haunting echo.  The folk blues song “This Old Hammer” is next, a Nelson Harmon song based on the mythical John Henry.  “Viola Lee Blues”  comes to us from Noah Lewis who was part of Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers.  The Grateful Dead jammed to this often nd here the Mighty Men do it justice.  John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas wrote “Me and My Uncle” and the song was made famous by Judy Collins and the Dead.  He wrote it and forgot about it until he heard it on one of Judy’s records.  He called her when he got a royalty check he thought was mistakenly credited to him; it must have been a wild night.  Mark Barkan wrote “Pretty Flamingo” and Manfred Mann made it a #1 hit in 1966 in the UK.  it’s a pretty ballad.

Steve Howell sings with an old time approach to carry a tune, but his voice trails off key a bit and does not resonate well at times.  The songs are cool and played well.  Folk and folk blues fans will recognize the material here.  It’s a really great set of tunes played with real heart and emotion.

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