Delmark Records 2014
13 tracks; 59 minutes
Andrew Osis came to Chicago to study at the University of Chicago but was already into music, having played in a power trio in his home town of Trumbull, Connecticut. That band was called The Giles Corey Band, the name taken from a character in “The Crucible” which Andrew and his pals were reading at the time. As Andrew fronted the band he was often referred to as “Giles” and the name stuck.
For this project Giles decided on a play on words about the fate that awaited the character in “The Crucible” – he was stoned to death! Joining Giles (as we will now refer to him) here are Marty Sammon on keys, Joewaun Scott on bass and Rick King on drums. Pat Otto adds mandola to four tracks and a trio of backing singers (Diane Madison, Mae Koen, Nanette Frank) add colour to two tracks. Giles wrote eight of the songs here, Marty Sammon wrote two (one with Rick King) and there are three covers.
Giles has played with a number of Chicago greats, including spells with Otis Rush, Billy Branch and Mississippi Heat amongst others. His first solo venture was Lubriphonic, a jam band with which all four main participants here were involved at one time or another. Giles speaks of wanting to link the jam band scene to the blues as there is much common ground and there are certainly some links on display here as the band covers a wide variety of roots music.
Opening track “Oh, Mademoiselle” has a funky base courtesy of some percolating keyboard work and lashings of slide from Giles. The upbeat “Morning Train” follows, with Pat’s mandola set against Giles’ guitar. The first cover is an intriguing run through the country classic “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You”. It starts out as an attractive cover with fine harmony vocals from the female trio and good piano and guitar solos. Giles’ solo morphs into a frenetic upbeat section before he returns to the original melody with some acapella vocals and the trio then take the song home; a version that takes a little getting used to!
Pat’s mandola and Marty’s piano feature in the downhome and amusing “Time Flies (When You’re Drunk)” but the heavily distorted wah-wah Giles uses on the funked up “Pork & Beans” did not work well to these ears. Gary Clark Jr’s “Bright Lights” takes the pace down a little with plenty of solid piano accompaniment and more muted wah-wah effects, the rousing chorus a high point and Giles takes a strong solo towards the end of the tune – a very effective cover.
“Rita” has more slide work from Giles, even evoking Derek Trucks at times, and it is not often you get a word like ‘Aphrodite’ in a blues tune! “Right On!” features drummer Rick on vocals on his and Marty Sammons’ very pleasant tune, the female trio adding choral harmonies to good effect and Giles adding some interesting guitar tones in his solo, this time bringing a latin dimension to his playing.
“It’s All Been Said Before” brings back Pat’s mandola on a catchy shuffle before Marty’s “Watch Myself Go Crazy” finds Marty taking the vocal on a tune which has some jazz rock influences and finds Giles in lyrical mood in his solo. The final cover is Cedric Burnside’s “That Girl Is Bad” which pounds along, driven by Giles’ slide and some great drumming, just off the beat, from Rick.
The album then closes with two more of Giles’ originals. “Home Is On My Mind” is a gentle tune with lyrics about getting home from a long journey, Giles double-tracking some shimmering slide and fast runs over a funky rhythm guitar motif. Closing track “Every Time I See Your Face” is almost acoustic with Pat’s mandola and Marty’s piano in back porch mood, Giles’ vocal very relaxed until the closing section when his vocals rise in intensity as his slide comes in over an increasingly lively backing.
This varied CD is an excellent first solo effort from Giles and is well worth a listen. There is enough strong guitar playing, especially on slide, to satisfy the guitar freaks but also a wide variety of styles are covered. Not everything works, but it is good to hear someone looking to stretch the envelope.