The Night Walkers – Struttin’
Steeplejack Music – 2019
10 tracks; 33 minutes
Roger Wade is an expatriate Brit living and working in Germany. His last two albums were reviewed favorably in Blues Blast: 2017’s Good Rockin’ House Party was a full band release by Little Roger & The Houserockers and the 2018 album The Schoolhouse Sessions featured Roger’s harp and vocals with his wife Marion on piano and guitarist Balta Bordoy in a looser, semi-acoustic format. The new album strips things back even more as Roger’s harp and vocals are supported only by Jens Turowski (a.k.a. Brother Snakeoil of the band Brother Snakeoil & The Medicine Men) who plays a variety of guitars and shares the vocals with Roger. However, this is far from a gentle acoustic affair as the duo covers songs by a variety of blues artists alongside four original songs.
The album opens with George ‘Harmonica’ Smith’s “Before You Do Your Thing” with Roger on vocals and Snakeoil setting a groove that recalls Jimmy Reed (whose loping rhythms are typified on the cover of “Hush Hush” which appears later on the disc with Snakeoil doing a fair impression of Jimmy’s vocal style as Roger blows some high register harp behind him). Roger provides three originals: “Take Me Home” is a classic drinking song, Roger ‘somewhat inebriated’ at the end of the evening and needing to be driven home; Snakeoil gets his slide out for “You Left Me” as Roger bemoans the loss of his lover; the title track “Struttin’” is a harp-driven instrumental that shows what a strong player Roger is. Look away if you are easily offended as Snakeoil takes over on vocals for his irreverent song “Pissing On Your Grave” – clearly a disgruntled man!
“Six Strings Down” is a tribute to the fallen Stevie Ray Vaughan written by his brother Jimmie and some of the Neville Brothers which originally appeared on Jimmie’s 1994 album Strange Pleasures. Roger plays some moody harp on the song behind Snakeoil’s vocals. The duo then tackles a couple of songs which contain more than a little risqué innuendo: Walter Davis’ “Think You Need A Shot” is a slower tune with plenty of Chicago blues feel before the tempo rises with Otis Spann’s “Popcorn Man”. The album closes with the traditional gospel tune “You Gotta Move” which is played pretty straight with Snakeoil on doom-laden slide and Roger leaving his harp to one side to concentrate on the vocals.
This is an enjoyable album of straight down the line traditional blues with a few classics and originals that fit right in. What’s not to like about that?