Gaetano Letizia And The Underworld Blues Band – Voodoo Doll And Other Blues Lessons | Album Review

gaetanoletiziacdGaetano Letizia And The Underworld Blues Band – Voodoo Doll And Other Blues Lessons

Self-Release 2014

12 tracks; 61 Minutes

Gaetano Letizia is a 40 year veteran guitar player who plays in solo and trio jazz styles as well as this venture, an electric blues band which he started in 2010. He is based in Ohio and this is the first CD release by the band. The website states that if “Bonamassa, Govt’ Mule, The Boneshakers and no nonsense heart stopping blues rock” is what you like, then this one is for you. Well, there are some JB moments on guitar but certainly no Gov’t Mule examples to these ears! The album is all original material with Gaetano on guitar and vocals, Larry Keller on bass, Steve Renko on drums, Jake Tijerina on keys and Ro Brown on background vocals. Bobby Huszar guests on lead vocals on one track.

The opening track is an instrumental entitled “Big Foot” in a rock style with swirling organ, Gaetano playing in a style reminiscent of Robben Ford. It is generally true that whilst there are many good guitar players, quality singers are far rarer and sadly that is the case here as Gaetano does not have a strong voice. “Voodoo Doll” lets us hear his voice for the first time, his gruff tones telling the story of a fateful meeting with a woman with some strange powers, his guitar adopting some angular sounds set against interesting/different drums – very much a jazz approach set in a rock context. “Kill My Conscience” is more of a straightforward blues rock song with a catchy central riff, the lyrics demonstrating a cynical outlook as Gaetano sings of “killing my conscience” about a casual relationship, then applying the same philosophy to theft. Equally cynical, the next song tells us that “The Devil Is A Nice Guy” and that “he loves the human race”. The next track is entitled “Sold My Soul” so a theme seems to be developing here! This one is a gentler track with some jazzy overtones, especially in the rhythm guitar chords working alongside some busy drumming and lyrical organ.

The next track is “Hurt Myself” on which Bobby sings lead. This one is more familiar blues territory, a shuffle with some nice guitar. Bobby’s voice is good and makes you realise that Gaetano has a rather limited vocal range though his guitar playing is fine. “All I Need” follows (though the running order on the CD sleeve is incorrect), a rock tune with anguished vocals from Gaetano and a swirling organ solo but little blues content. “Bleed” features acoustic guitar in a Spanish style. “Blow The Blues Away” was one of the strongest blues tracks here, with attractive guitar playing. “Torture Me” opens with some dramatic chords then gives way to a slow tune with nice guitar accents which then morphs into an anguished bit of shredding. “Orange Sunglasses” is another instrumental, definitely in a jazz vein and “Big Secret” closes the album with a very strange piece in which Gaetano sings about his home town then ‘discusses’ his opinions with his guitar – definitely different but not a success to these ears.

In summary Gaetano is a solid and experienced guitar player who can operate in a number of styles, but he is not a strong vocalist. The CD has some good moments but lacked sufficient blues content to sustain this reviewer’s interest.

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