Lo-Fi Mob Records – 2015
10 tracks; 44 minutes
Larry Teves (a.k.a. Chickenbone Slim) and his band The Biscuits are from San Diego, CA, and this is their first full album since they got together in 2012. Slim produced the album, sings and plays guitar and is joined by Big Jon Atkinson on harp and occasional guitar, Mike Chiricuzio on bass/vocals and Marty Dodson on drums; sound engineer Danny Michel also adds some guitar. As the name of the record label suggests this is a lo-fi affair with plenty of primitive vocals and harp playing, Big Jon being something of an expert on vintage gear. Big Jon has, of course, found considerable success with his own album but is ever-present on his friend Chickenbone’s debut too, both as performer and sound engineer, with Danny. All the material is original, written by Slim.
Most of the material here is upbeat and opening track “Tomcat” is a good example with its fast rhythm, Jon’s harp underpinning Slim’s vocal at every turn. The song is a tribute to ‘Tomcat’ Courtney, a stalwart of the San Diego scene. “Tryin’ To Get By” is a classic shuffle with that old school feel on the accompaniment as Slim sings well before dropping in a nicely stinging solo which is well matched by Jon’s harp. Title track “Gone” is one of only two tracks without harp and finds Jon on guitar, a solid piece of rock n’ roll with Slim singing of needing to get “some grease in my diet, I’m going to party like it’s Mardi Gras”, concluding that he is ‘gone’ from his present situation. Things return to normal with the harp-led (if grammatically suspect) “Shouldn’t Of Oughta Done It” which has some distorted vocals and a John Lee Hooker feel before “My Legs Don’t Work” ups the tempo with buzzing harp and a toe-tapping rhythm.
“Blues For Christmas” is an extended slow blues with ‘classic’ lyrics about how Slim’s girl ran off with another guy and he could not pay his bills so the electricity was turned off. The nine minute track affords plenty of opportunity for Jon to stretch out on the harp, showing what a strong player he is, Slim providing some subtle chording in support. After that the band wants to rock out and “Daisy May” provides the perfect opportunity with an easy, rolling pace which brings out a solid vocal from Slim and some nice harp highlights from Jon, a definite highlight for this reviewer. Guitars lead the way on the rocking “Pistol In Your Pocket”, Jon putting his harp away for this one and sharing guitar duties with Slim, drummer Marty finding space to add some interesting percussion effects. To close out the album “Good Stuff” has a Muddy Waters swagger in tribute to Slim’s girl and “Mr Automatic” shuffles along effectively with a boastful lyric about how reliable Slim is, Jon making a final flurry on his harp.
Defiantly lo-fi in style and attitude, this album will definitely be of interest to those who enjoyed Big Jon Atkinson’s recent album but also features solid playing in an all-original program.