CD: 10 Songs, 33:30 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary and Traditional Electric Blues
Here’s a trivia question for you, Constant Readers: Name a place that’s almost always cold, full of ice and snow, and where magic happens if you listen closely. If you said “the North Pole,” good guess, but try somewhere a bit lower in latitude: Finland! That’s where the Tomi Leino Trio hails from, with a straightforward yet sizzling sophomore album named Hip Shootin’. In their native country and throughout mid-Europe, they’ve become highly successful – so much so that their sold-out debut CD, Get On Down, was recently reissued. According to their promo info materials, “[Hip Shootin’] was recorded at Suprovox Studios, straight to a two-track recorder, and the band’s spontaneous and tight team play, together with their authentic sound, was well-captured…[The band also has] a long working history together with American blues masters like James Harman, Mark Hummel and R.J. Mischo.” Featuring four original songs and six covers, this album displays the Trio’s wicked skills on electric chopper, blues harmonica, and drums.
If the dictionary had an entry for “guitar hero band,” it might read, “See Tomi Leino Trio.” Leino and his colleague Jaska Prepula (who also plays upright bass) know how to get the most out of hot-pepper raw barroom riffs. Tomi also blasts blues harmonica with nuclear intensity, taking no prisoners on songs like Frank Otis Frost’s “Jelly Roll King.” As for his vocals, they may remind some of Tim “Too Slim” Langford and his posse the Taildraggers. Meino and his colleague Prepula talk-sing through their numbers, conversing with their listeners and attempting occasional harmonies, like on tracks six and nine. This isn’t wholly off-putting, but people who appreciate powerful pipes might want more. Mikko Peltola does a fine job on drums as well.
The following three selections are the best of the Trio’s originals:
Track 02: “Elaine” – The subject of this song is a “woman like a hurricane,” according to the chorus of this Piedmont-style stomp. “Oh, Lord!” Tomi cries in astonishment, and it’s no wonder: Elaine’s stormy passion packs too much of a wallop, as does the guitar solo in the middle. With a hook that just won’t quit worming into people’s ears, this tune’s a winner.
Track 05 “Hip Shooter” – While listening to this casual, loping instrumental, one might be reminded of a Wild West scene: a sheriff and a stubble-bearded bad guy striding into the town square for a showdown at high noon, and having a heated argument beforehand. Who’ll be the first to draw their pistol? Will justice win out? Hopefully the “Hip Shooter” will be the lawman.
Track 07: “Can’t Stop Loving You” – Here Leino shows off some of his sensational harmonica talent, and the harmony on the refrain isn’t bad either. No melancholy Phil Collins ballad is track seven, although the former is more famous. With time and publicity, hopefully it will reach the U.S. charts. One minor flaw is this lyric: “I send you a letter, but you never reply. I want to know what it’s all about.” Those two words may rhyme in Finland, but not England.
Three Hip Shootin’ Finnish have finished their second real-deal electric blues album!