13 songs – 56 minutes
The third release from The Mighty Mojo Prophets is another fine slice of modern day electric blues from the Long Beach, California-based band. Featuring 13 original songs, all co-written by singer Tom Eliff and guitarist Mitch Dow, RECORD STORE is also the first release on the Prophets’ new label, Mojo King Music, the band having previously recorded for Rip Cat Records and Delta Groove Records.
Despite the modern recording values, there is a glorious sense of retro throughout RECORD STORE, from the wild abandon of the opening track, “Crazy Love” where’s Dow’s old-fashioned gnarly guitar meshes perfectly with the swooping harmonica of Tom Richard, to the West Coast swing of the closing instrumental of “All Thumbs”, which features some delicious chromatic harp from Richard and an inspired Junior Watson-esque solo from Dow.
Eliff has an engaging voice, telling stories in his songs in a manner reminiscent of the likes of James Harman and William Clarke, both of whom are name-checked in the autobiographical title track, where Eliff sings about growing up in the mid-80s in Long Beach, and visiting Lamar’s Record Store “to get my blues fix”. “You might see Big Bill Clarke or maybe Icepick too,” sings Eliff over Dow’s funky, wah-wah rhythm guitar. “I saw Snooky Prior lay down some funky old lowdown blues.” The intelligence, wit and awareness of Harman is clearly a strong influence on the Prophets, as can be heard in tracks like “Things Don’t Change” and “Good Girl Train”, the latter of which could be a co-write between Harman and Delbert McClinton.
Eliff and Dow are an impressive song-writing team and RECORD STORE contains a wide range of blues rhythms and styles from the lazy shuffles of “Workin’ Man” and “Cherry Red” to the upbeat eponymous swing of “West Coast Girl”, while tracks such as “Strong Together” contain hints of soul music (and kudos to Mike Malone for the lovely organ solo on that song).
Dow’s guitar is the dominant instrument on the album, and he mixes up his sound impressively, adding heavy reverb to “Wondering” and raucous slide guitar to “Bring It On Home” although he shares many solos with Richmond’s harp. Mike Malone’s piano and organ tends to be used more for subtle backing although, when he does take a solo, as on “Good Girl Train”, he more than holds his own.
The Prophets are locked down by the top class rhythm section of Dave DeForest on bass and Al Ricci on drums, but the songs have an endearingly ragged feel to them, as if they were recorded live, which again adds to the slightly retro feel of the album. In “Spider And The Fly”, for example, Dow’s guitar solo sometimes hurries the rhythm and sometimes lays back just off the beat, which captures the listener’s attention all the more effectively.
RECORD STORE is a very enjoyable release from a band that obviously has a lot of momentum behind it. Impressive stuff.