Shakedown Tim And The Rhythm Revue – Shakedown’s Th’owdown
12 songs – 45 minutes
Shakedown Tim And The Rhythm Review are a Belgian band who play a mix of uptown jump, blues and rock‘n’roll with absolute authority, an infectious groove and an irresistible enthusiasm. Shakedown’s Th’owdown is their second album and is a pretty essential purchase for anyone who enjoys top notch West Coast jump blues.
The band makes clear its intentions on the cover of the album, with a black and white photo of the band, suited and booted in appropriately retro garb, with a minimal drum kit, a double bass and saxophone, and a guitar player in foreground wearing a pork pie hat and shouldering an old Espanada hollow body. The music itself delivers on the cover’s promise, tearing out of the blocks with the primal rock’n’roll of “Drop You Like A Bad Habit” before essaying a range of blues styles across the rest of the album. There is a rawness and an immediacy to the music that would put most punk bands to shame.
Shakedown Tim And The Rhythm Revue is led by Tim Ielegems on vocals and guitar. Ielegems also wrote or co-wrote all but three songs on the album. The rhythm section of Dennis “Tubs” de Gier on drums and the mononymous but magnificently-named Boss on upright bass perfectly tread the fine line between being tighter than a clam with lockjaw while still swinging and grinning. Bart Stone’s raucous tenor and baritone saxophones add appropriate punctuation to the songs as well as providing a cool second solo sound to complement Ielegems’ top class less-is-more guitar playing.
To add to the fun, the mighty Gene Taylor guests on piano on six songs, Kathleen Vandenhoudt adds vocals to the duet “The Way It’s Going To Be” and the nonpareil James Harman adds harmonica to three songs (including his own instrumental, “Icepick’s Shakedown Th’owdown”) as well as producing the album.
The songs range from funky “Rollin’ On” to the dirge-like “No More Fightin’”, the finger-picked country blues of “Let’s Get A Life” and the “Rollin’ And Tumblin’”-esque “I Wanna See You Baby” and the shuffle of “Drop You Like A Bad Habit” (a more low-down version of the opening rock’n’roll track). Ielegems is a sharp songwriter, using traditional structures and melodies in his music while addressing thoroughly modern themes in his lyrics. “I Will Unfriend You” finds the song’s protagonist threatening ostracism on social media, while “Let’s Get A Life” contains the catchy chorus: “Let’s go some place where we can get high. Maybe a bar with no WiFi. No Instagram or Twitter. No dirty Snapchat litter. Come on, let’s get a life.”
The two covers on Shakedown’s Th’owdown are Kerry Wilson’s “Did The Best I Could”, which is played as a grind with some typically spot-on piano from Gene Taylor, and Pee Wee Crayton’s classic instrumental “Blues After Hours”. It’s a superb interpretation with more great piano from Taylor and some outstanding guitar from Ielegems. Primarily however its power comes from the dynamics of the entire band as the track repeatedly builds up the tension then brings it back down.
Harman contributed the harp-driven instrumental boogie of “Icepick’s Shakedown Th’owdown” as well as sitting in the producer’s chair and he deserves much credit for capturing some fabulous performances.
If you like the West Coast sounds of Junior Watson, Lynwood Slim and Rick Holmstrom, you’ll find much to enjoy in Shakedown’s Th’owdown. It’s a little gem of an album.