Jeremiah Johnson – Straitjacket | Album Review

Jeremiah Johnson – Straitjacket

Ruf Records

12 songs time-53:11

Jeremiah Johnson delivers biting blues rock with his commanding guitar attack bolstered by his hearty pipes and a crack backing band. The music herein at times verges close to solid blues while rockin’ out at all times.Aside from Johnson the band consists of Frank Bauer on saxophone, Tom Maloney on bass and Benet Schaeffer on drums. Producer Mike Zito provides rhythm guitar, lead guitar and vocals to the final track. Eleven of the songs were penned by Johnson himself.

The title track introduces the listener to Jeremiah’s smooth and cool vocal delivery over a fresh and invigorating rhythm and blues tinged groove as he addresses his adversity to a woman having too tight a rein on him. His guitar attack is crisp and clear. Frank’s wailing sax compliments the song perfectly. The band is tight as a bull’s posterior on “Getting Tired”. Echoed vocals, an aggressive guitar assault and twittering sax, you can’t go wrong. Here he bemoans the prospect of getting old, while be determined to soldier on.

The guys hit on a slow and sexy groove on “Blues In Her Eyes” as Jeremiah shoots out pure blues gold from his axe. He brings out his slide playing on “Keep On Sailing” about giving up drink and drugs. In “Believe In America” the lyrics profess patriotism even in the face of the plight of the common man. Half way through the song takes on a bit of a rumba beat as the guitar skitters around wonderfully.

“King & Queen” is a slow blues burner chock full of simmering blues guitar soloing. “Booty Calls” is the subject of “Dirty Mind”. “9th And Russell” is an autobiographical story with images of the Mississippi river and New Orleans among others. “Old School” is about the old days when people fought about their differences rather than resorting to killing. Sax blares over a sort of an “Adams Family” inspired guitar riff on the sole instrumental “Bonneville Shuffle”. Slide and sax intertwine on the tender “Hold My Hand”. Their cover of Ten Years After’s “Rock & Roll Music To The World” features producer Mike Zito on rhythm and lead guitars as well as sharing vocal duties with Jeremiah. They do a fine job, but I miss Alvin Lee’s grittier growl.

All in all a fine showing by Jeremiah Johnson and his more than able crew. The music encompasses blues, blues-rock, R&B and maybe a bit of country swagger in the vocals to come up with a truly pleasing sound. I seem to detect a bit of Tony Joe White attitude in Jeremiah’s occasional spoken asides. The rhythm section provides a strong foundation for the guitar and sax display. This is grade ‘A’ primo stuff.

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