The Atomic 44’s – Volume One | Album Review

The Atomic 44’s – Volume One

Bird Dog Records

9 tracks

In 2020, Eric Von Herzen, harmonica man for Walter Trout, Social Distortion,The Atomic Road Kings, Junior Watson, and Johnny Main, vocalist and guitarist for The 44’s came together to form the Atomic 44’s. It’s a big and bad collaboration with lots of fire and brimstone raining down on the listener. It’s hot and it’s really good stuff with nine new cuts.

Adding to the mix are an assembled group of fantastic musicians. There is the great Jim Pugh on keys, the outstanding Gary Ferguson on drums (Etta James and Gary Moore), the solid and long standing  bassist Bill Stuve, Taryn Donath  who I also on keys, the ebullient Deb Ryder adding her backing vocals and Kid Ramos adding some more guitar (The Proven Ones, Roomful of Blues, The Fabulous Thunderbirds). This is an all star crew backing two incredible musicians and they blend and meld together oh-so-well.

The album opens with “The Boogeyman,” a hot blues boogie with ringing guitar and stinging harp. It’s a slick number and nice hook to start things off. Barbwire & Fences’ follows, a coming of age song and landing in jail and a life in and out of the slammer. It’s a dark, slow blues with more greasy harp, a biting guitar solo and some emotional vocals. “Fade To Black” has some angry blues shouting, a driving beat and more seminal harp work. The guitar makes another solo appearance but it’s the harp that’s the star here. Up next is “Olivia,” a greasy and grimy harp tune with a nice, long instrumental intro. The boogey returns with some good piano and guitar guiding the musical flow. “Candyman” follows that, which is pretty much and instrumental follow on to what happened the prior track and it’s cool!

“Ol’ Mexico” is next with a driving beat and wailing harp and guitar and howling vocals. Next is “Lyin’ Still” and the harp continues to blare and blaze and the guitar and organ add depth and cool factors to the cut. Slow and hot, it’s another great cut bemoaning his woman ignoring him while talking to every man in town. The guitar adds to the feeling and has a poignant solo. “Saints & Sinners” is a slower piece where the lyrics decry the life of sin that he can’t make his way out of. There is more big harp and guitar are featured here. The concluding number is “My ‘49” with a driving beat and wicked phrasing. The song is about his old car and his love for it. The guitar rings loudly and the halrp continues in it’s musical assault. Well done!

This is a hot album and it’s big and ballsy and full of grit and power. I loved it and recommend it to all blues lovers as something that should grace their musical collections!

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