BB And The Blues Shacks – Reservation Blues
Rhythm Bomb – 2017
14 tracks; 51 minutes
BB And The Blues Shacks are a long-established institution in their native Germany, this being their ninth album. Blues Blast readers may recall this reviewer’s praise for guitarist Andreas Arlt’s 2011 solo album All-Time Favorites – Andreas and his brother Michael wrote all the material here. Michael handles harp/vocals and Andreas guitar with Fabian Fritz on keys, Henning Hauerken on bass and Andre Werkmeister on drums; horns are added to four cuts by Tom Muller (sax) and Stefan Gossinger (trumpet) and Till Seidel adds some rhythm guitar to two tracks.
The title track “Reservation Blues” finds Michael having ‘reservations’ about his relationship and “Lay Some Shuffle Down” sums up many blues fans’ reaction to modern music, “Man, your rap is just crap to me, some good old shuffle fits me to a T”, all played over a great shuffle rhythm. On several tracks Fabian’s organ adds a swinging groove, a good example being “All About That” which also features Michael’s harp to good effect. “I Can’t Go On” has a retro sounding rockabilly feel that makes it hard to sit still and “Angry Cat” marks the half way point on the album with an instrumental on which Andreas’ guitar and Fabian’s organ duel effectively. Some tough harp introduces “Not Much To Lose” (erroneously listed as “Not Much To Loose” on the sleeve!), a slow blues with a traditional theme of everything going wrong in one’s life.
The horns add punch to the superb swinging double entendre “Honeycomb” which may well be the standout cut on the album. The relaxed “From Now On” is a shorter track with the horns in support behind Michael’s dramatic vocal; the horns also add accents to the slow blues “My Time Ain’t Long” and the New Orleans flavored ballad “Mad About You”. The band hits a Chicago groove on “Year Of Strife” and “Little Secrets” and swings hard on “Things Won’t Change” with Fabian’s piano and Andreas’ guitar making it another stand-out cut. The album closes with a song that deals with the life of a blues musician, another swinger, “Why Can’t I Go Home”.
Anyone who loves traditional sounding blues can approach this release with confidence. At a time when much of the scene is dominated by blues-rock a disc like this is a treat to hear.