Plastic Meltdown Records
Suitcase Johnnie is a blues and toots rock band out of Southern California who have released their first CD. Mixing covers and originals, the band has a nice sound and works hard to make songs their own. Leading the band is Marty “Cadillac” McPhee on harp and vocals. Dennis Roger Reed and Don Reed play all the guitars and Dennis sings lead on two songs. Phil Hawkins plays drums, Tim Horrigan is on keys and Steve Zoerner plays the bass. Mike Dowling plays a resonator on a few cuts and sings harmony on one of them as does Carolyn Miller.
“Believe That I’ll Go Back Home” gets the ball rolling, a swinging little cut with some lap steel used for good effect. The beat drives along as the band harmonizes and moves along together with lots of drum effects. They put a new spin on “Move To Kansas City,” giving it a southern California sort of sound. There’s a big electric guitar solo with a little cool distortion and the ever cool vocals delivered by McPhee. Next is the title Cadillac song- “Crazy About a Cadillac” where there is some restrained harp, nice resophonic guitar work, backing organ and good harmonies. “Peter Paul Reubens” is next, a short little ditty sung by Reed as he plays some mandolin, too. Dowling slide ont he resonator also adds a cool factor to this cut. “Little White Moon” brings the lap steel back as McPhee and he band bounce along with this number. Horrigan offers up a good piano solo, too, as the band plays in a California hill country style. The mandolin is again featured in “Me & My Uncle,” a western themed song. The straight harp solo adds to the feel of the song. “Funky Poultry” is a stylistic departure from the prior songs as Don Reed picks the baritone guitar with abandon in this instrumental written by Dennis. Some greasy harp by McPhee also scores points as he slips and slides through the funk, too. The electric guitar and resonator also appear and the song is a a fun take off on the name Funky Chicken.
“Up To You” is an acoustic ballad on resonator with lots of vocal parts harmonizing. The pal steel adds its’ voice to the mix, a soulful little piece. “Don’t Ease Me In” is a Grateful Dead cut with sweet acoustic guitar work. It’s got a bit of a country feel to it and the boys have fun with it. “Pumpkin Pie” brings the mandolin back as the band as the band goes back down home with this little ditty with harmonies and harp making it fun. “Leave It There” is an Gospel cut arranged by Dennis and is Dennis Roger Reed’s second cut fronting the band. His deep baritone voice is featured as is the lap steel and electric guitar, piano and harp. It’s a cool cut. The album concludes with two more originals, “Never Thought I’d Fall” and “Washington Hotel.” The former features the organ, several of the guitars (although uncredited here) and harp in a big instrumental work, the longest on the CD. The latter is a country styled tune with McPhee and Reed doing a duet. Acoustic guitar and harp are also part of the duet and it’s a sweet ending to the album.
These guys are a California band who play more of a country blues than anything else. They seem to have a lot of fun as they mix it up in the songs. Several of the songs are short as they were in the old days, giving you just enough to get a good taste and then on to a new one. The guitar work is varied and cool The harp fills in and punctuates nicely. The keyboards are tasteful and add a lot when they feature them. The back line is solid as are the vocals. The album was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it!