B.B. & The Blues Shacks – Dirty Thirty | Album Review

B.B. & The Blues Shacks – Dirty Thirty

Rhythm Bomb Records


3 CDs – 49 songs time – CD1 – 61:58 CD2 – 60:48 CD3 – 52:31

As part of their 30th anniversary celebration the German band B.B. & The Blues Shacks have released this 3 CD set clocking in at just shy of 3 hours. I find there isn’t one clunker in the batch. The five piece outfit is augmented by an unidentified horn section on the first two discs as they present songs in various R&B influenced blues styles ranging from jump blues to more straight ahead R&B. The third disc consists of more current material along with a few remakes of older songs. The third disc is sans horn section allowing for more of a traditional leaning blues approach that lends itself for the harmonica to step out a bit more.

The band is completely up on their game. Singer-harmonica man Michael Arlt is a strong front man with his assertive vocalizations. Right from the first song on the first disc Come Along(2012) “True Love In Vain” the instrument separation is evident showcasing each part with clarity. Fabian Fritz’s boogie woogie piano is right up front where it should be. His piano and organ playing throughout is spot on. Andreas Arlt handles all styles of guitar quite handily as he infuses blues, jump and swing blues, R&B, a bit of jazz and country into his playing. All but three compositions are penned by Andreas and Michael “Maddy” Arlt.

Henning Hauerken is a strong foundation on upright and electric bass along with drummer Andre Werkmeister. Andre adjusts to all the stylistic nuances in the music. The anonymous horn players provide tight ensemble drive as well occasionally stepping out in the solo spotlight.

The genres of music vary throughout the three CDs. The main is R&B infused blues, jump blues, swing blues, ballads and a few forays into the pop world. “If I Should Ever Lose Your Love” harkens back to some of the classic British pop stars such as Cliff Richard or Billy Fury.

A few other highlights for me: The R&B of “Will You Be There”. The lone instrumental “Buckle Up” is a jazzy romp giving time for organ and guitar to stretch out. “Goodbye Everybody” is a good jump blues closer for the Businessmen CD(2014). The cover of “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” isn’t the song I’m familiar with. I was thinking along the lines of-“The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas(clap, clap, clap). Fabian Fritz replicates Professor Longhair’s classic New Orleans piano style on “Ain’t Gonna Cry No More”. Add Michael Arlt’s harmonica over that and you just can’t go wrong.

Their are many bright lights amongst the plethora of songs here. You will have an adventure in blues goodness as you sort through the musical delights within. Not a weak song in the bunch.

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