The Bennett Brothers – Not Made For Hire
The Brooklyn born and raised Bennett Brothers hail from the Bay Ridge neighborhood near the Verrazano Bridge, across from my roots on the other side of the Bridge in Staten Island. Jimmy and Peter Bennett spent years playing with Levon Helm in Woodstock at his home and then on the road with him. They opened shows at “The Midnight Rambler” where guys like Hubert Sumlin, Johnnie Johnson, Little Sammie Davis, and Luther “Guitar’ Johnson were frequent headliners. They were the originators of the Alex P Suter Band and did 100 gigs prior to starting this part of their career. Along with Jimmy on guitar and vocals and Peter on bass and vocals are Lee Falco on drums and vocals and John Ginty on B3 and pianos. Jimmy Bennett wrote all 11 songs here.
“Junkyard Dog” is a nice little blues rocker that sets things off for the Brothers. A driving beat, solid rhythm guitar groove and B3 organ support the clean vocals and stinging solo guitar work. Blues rockers will take note of these guys! Second on the list is “Hold On Tight” where the tempo slows down but there is still a hard groove that keeps things centered. The vocals show some emotion and restraint but the guitar solo gets a little bit more emotional. The late electric piano solo is similar, with the song maintaining the pace and calm level throughout. “I Just Don’t Want The Blues Today” is a somber, slow blues ballad. Linda Pino backs up the band on vocals as they testify that they, “don’t want the blues today.” A very restrained and cool guitar solo is featured along with some gutsy vocals. Things build in emotion and level at the end for the outro. Things then pick up for a cut simply entitled “Blues #9.” They get a bit of a mid tempo boogie going and then the big guns on guitar and then later on B# come in to sell this instrumental. “What’d I Do” follows in a similar tempo, a nice blues rocker where they sing and ask about how they erred with their woman. A big guitar solo is featured and then returns to take things out. Up next is “Rocking Chair,” a slow starting blues rocker that then breaks out into a peppy cut with piano, slide and good vocals. Ginty gets all honky tonk and the guitar from Jimmy is dirty and distorted. I can see them dancing in Bay Ridge top this one!
“How Long” has a long intro and features the guitar as the primary voice throughout. The B3 then gets it’s turn to wail. The single verse/chorus is the only sung part, done after the intro and then partly before the close, so this is primarily an instrumental with a question asked. The guitar and organ provide the feeling. “The Only Way To Be” is another midtempo rocker where the lyrics tell us he is waiting for a commitment from his woman. Nice guitar work once again on the two solos, without being overdone. “Walk With The Devil” picks the pace up perhaps slightly in another bluesy rocker with lots of guitar for the axe fans. “Not Made For Hire” stays in the mold of the prior mid to up tempo rockers. Lots of good slide here to listen to on this title cut. The set concludes with a more up tempo cut that move along smartly right from the cut. “I Got A Woman” is the final song, telling us about the woman who, “knows what she’s got and knows how to use it.” Ginty begins a solo and then the guitar takes over and a big, massive finish goes on that takes things to the end.
I liked the CD. I felt several times that things were about to break out into a big, hot and fast number that would make a live crowd go wild. The songs tended to hold back and be more in the jam band sort of tempo. Nothing is wrong with any of them, I was just looking for more variety other than slow and mid tempo blues rockers. I can tell these guys know how to really cut loose. Add that to the mix and this would have been even better. The guitar, keys and backline are all solid and the vocals were well done, too. I just wanted a couple of more fast songs for variety because I know these guys can rock it out!