Jim McCarty & Friends – Live From Callahan’s II | Album Review

jimmccartycdJim McCarty & Friends  – Live From Callahan’s II

Self-Release – 2016

9 tracks; 72 minutes


Jim McCarty is best known for his stints on guitar with Mitch Ryder and Buddy Miles.  He lives close to Callahan’s Music Hall in Michigan and these recordings are the second volume of Jim sitting in with bands that were playing the club. The quality of the recordings is good with Jim’s guitar clearly picked out on one channel which makes it easy to compare his playing with the other artists who are, with one exception, all guitarists.  The material is mainly drawn from the standard blues repertoire and Jim offers some brief comments on each of the collaborations.  Unfortunately the supporting musicians are not credited though it is safe to assume that these are the regular touring bands of each named artist.

The CD opens with two solid cuts from Coco Montoya whose shuffle version of Buster Brown’s “Fannie Mae” is a staple of his live set and he always does a song by his old employer Albert Collins; on this occasion it’s “Put The Shoe On The Other Foot”.  Both are lengthy workouts and there is ample space for both guitarists to shine.  Tommy Castro is up next with “Let Me Love You Baby” which is clearly an edit as we join the tune mid-way and a great run-through of two old favourites from the Mitch Ryder era, a medley of Little Richard’s “Jenny-Jenny” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” which provides some high energy rock and roll.  Also edited is the version of Little Milton’s “Homesick For My Baby” which Nick Moss and Jim extend to over ten minutes though it was obviously longer as the track fades out!  Kudos are due to Michael Ledbetter whose vocals at the beginning are excellent.

However, after that the CD drags a bit: does the world need another cover of “Everyday I Have The Blues”, even with the late Johnnie Bassett, a Detroit favourite, involved?  The only non-‘classic’ is “Excello Boogie” from Jim’s band Mystery Train on which Jason Ricci plays some of his trademark harp; combined with distorted vocals and guitar this was the least enjoyable track here for this reviewer. Joe Louis Walker and Jim deliver a tribute to Michael Bloomfield with two songs associated with MB – “I Got A Mind To Give Up Living” and “Born In Chicago”, the former working well with JLW singing soulfully and playing some subtle guitar on the slow blues before exploding into a frenzied solo.  “Born In Chicago” is less successful with a ‘shoot-out’ section between the two players which rather detracts from the song though such is the stuff of jams!

This album will appeal to fans of extended guitar jams and offers snapshots of Jim sitting in with a lot of well-known players from the current scene.

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