Albert Castiglia – Wild and Free | Album Review

Albert Castiglia – Wild and Free

Gulf Coast Records

11 songs time – 72:29

Guitar firebrand Albert Castiglia has long been plying his trade and building a faithful following. When his music first crossed my path it had a stronger leaning towards more traditional sounding blues with occasional forays into super-charged blues-rock. Here the emphasis on the blues-rock end of the spectrum. All along his hearty vocal chops have been well intact. This release finds Albert in his natural live setting at The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, Florida, recorded over two nights in 2020. His core band is occasionally augmented by Mike Zito on guitar and John Ginty on the Hammond B-3 organ. Bass player Justine Tompkins is several notches above your run of the mill bassists. Following her meandering bass lines under Albert’s guitar attack is a pleasure to behold. Ephraim Lowell firmly holds down the drum seat. Lewis Stephens gives a good showing on B-3 organ and piano.

In several of the songs on the CD Albert’s voice is husky to the point of being unrecognizable.  The hard charging blues-rock of “Let The Big Dog Eat” kicks off the proceedings in tough style. Rapid fire guitar ignites “Hoodoo On Me”.

“I Been Up All Night” is a gloriously noisy wah-wah fest. Here as elsewhere Justine Tompkins’ bass in an integral part of the song. Ok, on “Heavy” there is the Albert Castiglia voice that I remember. In a regular setting it is easily recognizable. It’s begins life as the closest thing to the blues here so far, then segues into blues-rock territory. Whatever the case his guitar playing is way under his control as he squeezes ever note out.

He reverts to his throaty voice on the original “Get Your Ass In The Van” and unleashes his slide guitar to wreck havoc over Lewis Stephens piano pounding. The band funks it up for “Searching The Desert For The Blues” and back to his more distinctive vocals with an assist from Justine. This song gives him the opportunity to stretch out his guitar chops. “Keep On Swinging” is a distorted guitar rocker. He dips into Johnny Winter’s catalogue with “Too Much Seconal”, abetted by Mike Zito’s guitar and John Ginty’s B3 Organ, the second longest song. The duo really cuts it up with their guitar attack. John unleashes a blistering organ solo to boot.

The band clocks in at eight minutes twenty for their longest track Paul Butterfield’s “Lovin’ Cup”. Albert’s guitar skitters hither and yon with John Ginty’s organ nipping at his heals. Wah-wah time again on “I Tried To Tell Ya”. The bass line supports the song. A staple from the late, great Freddie King’s repertoire the chugging instrumental “Boogie Funk” takes things home. Albert pulls out all the stops as he puts his axe through its’ paces.

This live CD along with all his past endeavors solidifies his the blues-rock pantheon along such slingers as Johnny Winter, Tinsley Ellis and Stevie Ray Vaughn. His reputation as a high energy live performer is well documented here. Having a top notch band makes him look even better. Get on the blues-rock train!

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