Howlin’ Mojo Bones – Self titled
Left Hand Down Records
11 tracks – 48 minutes
Every once in a great while there’s a blues band that reminds you why you love the blues. This band fronted by a spectacularly original lead singer is why these reminders are so far and few between. It’s ultimately the truth and depth of feeling dispensed on this disc that drives these extraordinary North East Londoners down their own boogie blues highway not necessarily all the way to hell but definitely one of the stops. North London blues veteran Howlin’ George Winter, born in Jamaica but came to London in the mid-sixties. His singing goes from growl to howl, from high to low, whatever the song demands, he delivers. He goes for it all without a net or filter and Steve Crane, electric guitar/musical soul mate, is always there to catch him with slick leads that come in just as many shades, moods and tones. The backup band is top shelf with Mick Whitehead on Bass and a nice “Shanty” style harp on the last tune, and John Baker on drums who is also name credited as producer of this fine sounding set of rocking blues recorded at Woodshed Studios, London. The songs, all originals, are credited to all band members who also share producer credit as a band with John. This is an all for one and one for all blues band of merry men.
The CD kicks off with the triple purpose band name; album name; and upbeat swinging title track letting the audience know the name is true and that they are about to have a great time. On track 2 it jumps right into the deep end of the pool of despair on part one of a conceptual song duo Never Say Never. The conclusion of which is Never Say Never Again on track 8. Howlin’ George lets us in on his personal troubles with a continental lady he chases over the two tunes only to find out in the end he’s not her number one. This is probably not a reference to the Romeo Void masterpiece punk dance floor filler but it does let non-believers in on a dirty little secret that punk sensibility is a part of the blues palette with this hard rocking outfit.
Track 3 “Cash Converter Blues” is a nod to mod and is the track most likely to break over the airwaves. But what follows is just as tasty. “Sugar Sweet” is a lament that wraps around your heart and doesn’t let go for both the long time lovers and the lovelorn. The next “Rhumba Woman” gets the Latin blues beat a nice run around the track as do all the tracks throughout the CD. There is not one single miss on this disc and by the end of the program we’re back down to that old familiar place in hell with “My Liver Don’t love Me no More” and an acoustic finale about the mantra of letting things go.
The messages here are clearly delivered with humor and humanity and more than enough great music going on around it to compel many repeat listens. This is a band to watch. They are the real blues thing that so often is missing from the mailing-it-in types endlessly touring until all the originality has been spent delivering the tired but true message. They could be much bigger given the quality of devotion to the art of getting the feeling just right for each tune. Variety is the spice and there is much to discover here.
Radio programmers should jump on this quick and let the people in on what is going on across the pond once again.