Chickenbone Slim – Serve It To Me Hot | Album Review

Chickenbone Slim – Serve It To Me Hot

Vizztone Label Group – 2021

13 tracks; 50.11 minutes

San Diego, California, is home to Larry Teves and this is his fourth album under his stage name Chickenbone Slim, mixing blues, rockabilly and swing. The album features his current band: bassist Andrew Crane remains on board, guitarist Laura Chavez will be familiar from her tenure with the late Candye Kane and more recently with Nikki Hill and Vanessa Collier and Marty Dodson has played drums with the likes of Mark Hummel, Kim Wilson and Charlie Musselwhite. Larry handles the vocals and rhythm guitar and producer Kid Andersen adds occasional keys and backing vocals; Kid’s wife Lisa is also on B/V’s and Aki Kumar adds harp to one cut. Larry wrote all the songs, the title track being a co-write with Andrea Ryan, to whom the song is dedicated. As usual with Kid’s recordings at Greaseland the sound is clear whilst retaining the vintage feel that albums like this deserve, making it a great listen from start to finish.

The title track kicks things off in great style with an insistent guitar riff from Laura over Chickenbone’s steady rhythm work. Chickenbone is in thrall to ‘Miss Right’ and, although he asks “what she has cooking in her pot”, one suspects that his interest is not really culinary! Laura pulls off a great solo on the outro. Perhaps what Chickenbone is seeking is the “Wild Eyed Woman” of the second track which rocks along well: “she done stole my heart, she done stole my soul, what I’m going to do tomorrow, Lord, I just don’t know” confesses Chickenbone. Laura is front and center on a song that Chickenbone wrote about her, “Queen Of The Wires”, a mid-tempo rocker with a fine solo and a Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson feel. Next up is a nice piece of West Coast swing as Kid joins in on piano and Laura swings like T-Bone, Chickenbone vaunting his qualities as the perfect person for a woman who “Ought To Be Loved”. In contrast “Love To Be True” is a Rn’R ballad, complete with echoey guitars and is well sold by Chickenbone’s deeper vocal stylings.

“Squares Everywhere” finds Chickenbone complaining about all the “straights” that surround him and he doesn’t mind being called a ‘kook’! Played to a rockabilly rhythm, Laura nails a classic Rn’R solo with lots of echo and Kid and Lisa enjoy providing the fun B/V’s. Aki leads us into “Top Of The Clouds” with a suitably high-pitched harp tone over an easy-going groove, both immediately recalling Jimmy Reed. In another change of style, Kid’s organ stabs add to the funky groove on “Laying In The Weeds” before we return to the rockabilly style on “Crying Tonight”, the inevitable outcome when the girl does not really commit to the relationship.

Apparently, “It ain’t a party unless you got some Shakalo”, but Google offered me a 5 year-old bay gelding horse or a beach care product, so unless Chickenbone can explain the title I am lost! It’s a pounding piece of Rn’R with Marty’s drums featured throughout and good fun, by the way. Things get more serious on the slow anthem “I Will Stand For You” as Chickenbone sings about wanting to support someone who he believes is being judged unfairly. We get back to a wonderfully rocking groove on “City Girl”, a song about a girl who stood out in Chickenbone’s small town with her tattoos and body jewellery; Chickenbone also references the late Tomcat Courtney to whom the whole album is dedicated. Marty’s cow bell and a wonderful guitar riff make you think that it’s the Stones and “Honky Tonk Woman” but in fact it’s “Hook Me Up” and it’s a surefire winner to close the album on a rocking high.

Throughout this thoroughly enjoyable album you cannot fail to be impressed by Laura’s excellent playing in a wide variety of styles and it is good that she was given the opportunity to display her prodigious talents within this excellent quartet playing Chickenbone’s fun and interesting songs. Recommended!

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