Li’l Chuck The One Man Skiffle Machine – Mono
14 songs time-43:36
Your first thought generally when thinking of a one man band is that it will be the same blop-blop-blop beat in song after song with pretty much the same formula over and over. What Li’l Chuck(David Thorpe) manages to accomplish with a resonator guitar, rack harmonica, kick drum, hi-hat cymbal and voice defies the limits of dexterity. he injects diversity into the program of songs, often rearranging blues standards. His harmonica playing is flexible and melodic while keeping up on guitar. There must be something good in the water of his home base of Christchurch, New Zealand. All this was recorded in retro fashion with one microphone with no overdubs. All instruments are clearly picked up. The guy has a strong vocal delivery. The CD consists of half originals and half covers.
His kind of honky tonk country voice fits like a glove on “Right By My Side” and everything else here. “Backyard Harmonica Boogie” is just what the title promises as his harmonica leads an upbeat romp. Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” gets a slowed down treatment and it has a mournful quality. Chuck’s own “Crying” is heartfelt and melancholy.
The narrator tells his two-timing girl friend to hit the road in no uncertain terms in the old-timey sounding “Outta Here”. He drops the “Little” in Howlin’ Wolf’s song to call it “Red Rooster” and a great recitation it is. The harmonica playing is nicely melodic on “Sweet Sue”. Chuck’s sprightly vocal on the traditional “Shady Grove” does the song justice.
Willie Dixon’s “My Babe” is given an energetic treatment. The original “The Devil Came To See Me” is just voice and harmonica, a song taken at a slow pace. Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All Right” is sped up to good effect. This approach is also applied to John Lee Hooker’s classic “Boom Boom” with equal results.
Yes ladies and gentleman in this case less certainly is more. How he gets his fingers and mouth to work so well simultaneously is way beyond my comprehension. You tend to forget it is one person making all this music. He has the blues and old-timey music down pat. If you want to get your big toe a jumpin’ do yourself a favor and pick this one up in a jiffy.