Big Cellar Records
CD: 15 Songs; 49:15 Minutes
Styles: Blues Covers, Contemporary Electric Blues
At the beginning of their writing careers, novice fiction authors commonly attempt certain kinds of stories: those of the first kiss, family quarrel, haunted house, and extraterrestrial encounter, to name a few. By the same token, blues bands who are beginning their musical journey, with only one or two albums to their name, commonly attempt certain cover songs. Such is the case with the Virginia-based Blues Condition, a trio consisting of Larry Benade on guitar and vocals, Bruce Thomas on bass and backup vocals, and Kenny Gott on drums and background vocals. To their credit, their first CD, Swingin’ Blues and Rockin’ Roots Music, was nominated by the Washington Area Music Association for Best Roots Rock CD of 2009. However, their new release, Moon Over Main Street, contains thirteen covers out of fifteen tracks.
The rest are blues covers that have been so thoroughly covered they’re almost clichés. Among them are “It Hurts Me Too” by Hudson “Tampa Red” Whittaker, “Howlin for my Baby” by Willie Dixon, “Dimples” by John Lee Hooker, and “Five Long Years” by Eddie Boyd. The band can certainly play them with aplomb, especially Benade on his powerhouse electric guitar. However, imagine if more bestselling authors these days tried to rewrite Moby-Dick or Romeo and Juliet. Even though their efforts would be commendable, they wouldn’t match the source material with the same masterful effect. They would be entertaining – as are Blues Condition’s renditions – but some fans might wish that this new posse had more new songs to sing. With that said, here are their two originals and the catchiest one of their covers:
Track 04: “Lucky Star” – Although the title of this rockabilly song seems to refer to our narrator’s lover, it’s actually a tribute to one of Blues Condition’s favorite places: “Thanks to the Lucky Star Lounge, Front Royal, VA,” they state in the CD liner notes. In the ditty, they sing, “You’re the kind of place I can spend my pay. I’ve made it through another day. You’re my lucky, lucky, Lucky Star.” Grab a partner and hit the dance floor, especially if wearing cowboy boots.
Track 13: “How Do I Know” – Can money buy devotion? The Beatles didn’t think so. Neither does our wealthy protagonist: “I gave you a Benz, nights without end, crystal and caviar, your very own star…That’s all real fine, but what’s on my mind? How do I know that you love me?” Lucky thirteen sounds the most like classic blues, with a familiar theme and swaying tempo.
Track 14: “Harlem Shuffle” – Bob Relf and Earl Nelson started this dance craze in 1963. Blues Condition continues this tradition with perky vocal harmonies. Baby Boomers might remember it – and teach their Millennial kids how to perform an old-school masterpiece.
Moon Over Main Street mostly reflects other artists’ work, but it still illuminates the blues!