Eddie Kold Band ft. Larry Doc Watkins – Chicago Blues Heaven
L&R Records – 2018
14 tracks; 56 minutes
Eddie Kold is a German guitarist who has been a regular visitor to Chicago for over 30 years, played with Buddy Scott, Tyrone Davis and Vance Kelly and toured with LV Banks and Zora Young. Back home in Germany Eddie has his own band but returned to Joyride Studios in Chicago to record this album. Eddie is on guitar and sings lead on four cuts, Larry Doc Watkins (originally from Virginia but now resident in Germany) is on vocals on most of the tracks, Lukas Diehl is on organ, Sven Ostrowski bass and Christian Wübben drums and all provide B/V’s; guests include guitarists Kenneth ‘Hollywood’ Scott (Buddy’s son) and Vance Kelly who play on two tracks each, sax player Rodney Brown who plays on two cuts, Dolores Scott who sings lead on one track and Ethel Reed who provides B/V’s on one. Miriam Frank (sax) and Markus Koch (trumpet) add horns to one track and Eddie’s daughter Millie Meckbach adds organ to two tracks. There are eleven originals, Eddie writing four, Larry one and the two combining on six, with three covers.
Eddie’s four vocals are on the songs he wrote solo and they are more personal than the rest. “Blues Heaven” is a shuffle that recalls some of Eddie’s fondest memories of his time in Chicago as he name-checks lots of Chicago people and places, past and present whilst “I Am Gone” is a slower tune about unfulfilled love. Eddie does not have the most expressive voice but plays some fine guitar on both tracks. “(I Lost My Baby To) Facebook” works well and suits Eddie’s voice rather better, the soulful tune supported by the horns. “Gasman 2018” recalls Eddie’s work at a gas station when he was a student with some boastful and slightly suggestive lyrics that play on the old ‘check your oil’ references with more solid guitar from Eddie.
Larry has a stronger voice and his own “Suzie” finds him in a soulful vein as Kenneth plays some high note plucked leads over Eddie’s rhythm work. A run of four Eddie/Larry compositions includes some of the best songs here: “Weeping Willow Tree” is a soul-blues tune with strong organ, lovely restrained guitar and Rodney Brown’s sinuous sax solo; Eddie’s guitar features strongly on the churning and soulful “Think About You All The Time”; “Ball And Chain” shares a title with Big Mama Thornton’s song forever associated with Janis Joplin but turns out to be a gentle ballad with acoustic guitar and melodic bass, Larry looking to “cut you loose like a ball and chain”, the lyric signalling the eruption of a fine electric solo from Eddie; the next track is a contender for the strongest song here with a catchy riff over which Larry issues a warning about this “Jungle Cat”. Later on the album “When I Woke Up This Morning” is a classic blues in BB King style which Larry delivers very well and “Hungry Call” adds a dash of funk in some of the background guitar work.
“Big Boss Man” is usually described as a Jimmy Reed song but, unusually for a Reed song it was, in fact, credited to Reed’s manager Al Smith and Vee-Jay staff writer Luther Dixon, a fact that Eddie is clearly aware of as the song is correctly attributed here as the band plays a fast-paced funk version with some more of Kenneth Scott’s skittering guitar. Dolores Scott sings powerfully on “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”, a Gerry Goffin/Barry Goldberg song written for Gladys Knight, Vance Kelly sharing the guitar duties here with Eddie. Vance also features on a cover of Rufus Thomas’ “Do The Breakdown” which has Vance on vocals and rhythm guitar, Rodney Brown on sax and Dolores Scott and Ethel Reed on backing vocals on a frantically funky dance track which comes to a sudden stop whereupon Vance asks: “Eddie, are you comfortable with that?” Guess Eddie was, as that is the final track on the album!
This is a labor of love from a man who is clearly a real fan of Chicago blues, soul and Rn’B and it’s a disc with some very good songs which is worth seeking out.