16 tracks/74 minutes
The Mannish Boys lineup may change, but it is always one of the most solid bands ever put together and this incarceration is no different. Led by the Sugar Ray Rayford and Randy Chortkoff up front, with Kirk Fletcher and Frank Goldwasser as axe men, Willie J. Campbell on bass and Jimi Bott on drums, they are as solid a blues band as one can find anywhere.
And then you add the likes of Candye Kane and Laura Chavez, Kim Wilson, Steve Freund, Kid Ramos, Mike Welch, Fred Kaplan and Bob Corritore (among others) and it becomes a blues extravaganza! Randy Chortkoff has steered this band and his label quite well, and this sixth CD for the ‘Boys remains centered in the blues and delivers a powerful punch. It’s stripped down some, but it works well, and maybe even better!
Candye and Laura excel on Ike Turner’s “I Idolize You.” Chortkoff provides some nice harp punctuation while Fred Kaplan tinkles the piano keys; the guitar work is direct and in keeping with the style of the song. Kane delivers the goods and makes this one of my favorite cuts on the CD.
Freund’s song “The Blues Has Made Me Whole” has him delivering the vocals and lead guitar and it, too, is a fine cut. As he wails, the band fills in nicely in a tight groove. It’s a wild ride!
The title cut features Rayford on vocals, Wilson on harp and backing vocals and Fletcher with a primo guitar solo. Kid Ramos is lead and slips in a fine guitar solo on the swinging “Everything’s Alright.” Rayford is fabulous here and throughout the CD as lead vocalist- he’s authentic, cool and exceptional.
An instrumental with Fletcher on guitar closes the CD; “Blue for Michael Bloomfield”offers up some dirty nasty guitar that makes one remember Bloomfield. Rich Wenzel lingers in the background mist on B-3 and it’s just a beautiful cut! Magic Sam’s “She Belongs to Me” features Ramos again while Rayford sings his heart out. Some superbly nice solos here by the Kid are just wondrously bigger than life. The opening cut “I Ain’t Sayin'” features Monster Mike Welch on guitar and he just rocks out on a tune he wrote. Sugar Ray is exemplary on vocals and it’s a great hook. Welch also wrote and performs on “I Have Love” where his guitar is perhaps more restrained but we instead get Corritore doing a huge harp solo and then the restraints are off for Welch. He follows Bob with a huge guitar solo and also closes out with one. Rayford sings and it’s another winner.
I could wax eloquently for an hour about this, a virtually flawless CD. From top to bottom it delivers high powered performances that grab the listener and tells them to take notice. The Mannish Boys have done 5 outstanding CDs prior to this but the new regime does not rest on past band member laurels.
This is West Coast Blues done as well as any group can deliver. There are 16 tracks of completely outstanding music. No grandstanding, no one trying to outshine the others here; the band members and guests are all working to make fantadtic music and support each other in their efforts. I really loved this CD and highly recommend it! Go buy this now- you will not regret it!