The Wyattchristmas Five – Slide ‘n’ Jive
Part Records – 2019
15 tracks; 52 minutes
There is a lot of great blues-related music coming out of Germany these days! Kai Strauss & His Electric Blues Band, BB & The Blues Shacks (with and without singer Bonita), Little Roger & The Houserockers and Jimmy Reiter have all produced excellent discs recently and here we have another German band to enjoy. Recorded in Berlin, this is leader Andy Wyattchristmas’ third album release, following two earlier trio discs. Between 2014 and 2017 the band expanded from a trio to a quintet with the addition of piano and harmonica and now consists of Andy Wyattchristmas on vocals and guitar, Peter Kuhn on harp, guitar and vocals, Miss Martini on piano, Olaf Schumacher on upright bass and Dennis Jansen on drums and backing vocals.
Andy wrote eleven of the songs, produced and mixed the album on vintage equipment to give a pleasingly retro sound which is ideal for the mix of rock and roll, swing and blues that is the band’s stock-in-trade.
Andy’s vocals are clear and virtually without accent. Opener “These Good Times” shows the band at its best with driving guitar, pounding piano and a swinging rhythm section on a song that looks back fondly to the days when radio broadcasting was the source of much great music. Miss Martini (great name!) features heavily here and again on “Please Stop The Rain” where Andy is concerned that the heavy rain may end up flooding his cellar and his sense of humour shows through on the witty “You Can’t Wear That” which has more of a rockabilly feel.
The title track “Slide And Jive” must be a great one for the dancers with its insistent, swinging rhythms and elements of doo-wop on the choruses. “That Cat” brings in Peter’s harp which increases the blues element, also true of “Baby Please” where Peter takes over the vocals and Andy switches to slide guitar. Peter has more of an accent and a gruffer tone but handles the vocals on this and two other cuts: his own original “Behind The Bar” praises the hard-working bar girls who are ever-smiling, first in and last out of the club, on a tune with some fine lead guitar by Andy and more great piano work; “Mojo Hand”, as you might guess, takes us down to the swamps in a version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ song in a stripped-back quartet version with harp and slide.
“When You Ain’t Around” changes things up a bit with some surf style guitar and good harmonies over a tune dominated by the piano and an overall feel that harks back to 50’s pop (think Dion or Fabian). The sole instrumental here is “Another Road”, a song written before the piano was added to the band and recorded here with just Andy’s attractive lead (again with some surf action) set against acoustic guitar and bass/drums.
“Gimme Your Lovin’” is a catchy harp-led shuffle, “Don’t Knock” is a 1961 song by The Spiders and “It’s Mighty Crazy” is a Lightnin’ Slim tune on which the band has some fun with the risqué lyrics. “Who’s Got The Key To My Room” is a real swinger which recounts what happens when you lose your room key after a gig…and even worse the bandmates are enjoying the moment! Closing track “I Am Still Around” is a song from Andy’s first album, re-recorded with fuller band sound.
This was the first material from this band that this reviewer has heard but it’s really good stuff that keeps your toes tapping throughout. The band must be terrific fun live and this disc is well worth seeking out.