The Blues Disciples – Big Beat | Album Review

thebluesdeciplescdThe Blues Disciples – Big Beat

Land O’Blues Records

12 tracks

The Blues Disciples have been Jim “Barefoot Jimmy” Schwarz and Paul “Pauly Walnuts” Stilin on harp/vocals and guitars since 1990. Other members have come and gone, but this version features Matt Liban on drums, son of Midwest harp great Jim Liban, and Chris Lehnert on organ for 7 of the 12 tracks.  A host of speial guests are featured; of most notoriety are Billy Flynn on guitar for 4 cuts and Reverend Raven on guitar for 2 tracks.  Rev’s keyboardist Danny Moore is featured on 6 cuts, too, along with three bass players, another organist, a vocalist and a percussionist.  Delivering 1950’s and 1960’s blues with a modern and original touch is their forte, and they do it well! 10 originals here; they really showcase the songwriting and performing talents of this great Milwaukee band!

Opening with the title track, the groove is a heavy shuffle and the beat throbs as Schwarz belts out a cool one. A nice, stinging guitar solo by Stilin is featured, a great addition to the poignant harp work and the pulse of the backline.  “Never Gonna Be the Same” is a slow, swinging tune with Schwarz bemoaning how his relation to his woman has changed to his detriment.  An organ solo by Moore followed by Stilin’s solo helps set the tone for this dark but cool cut.  Lehnert adds some nice piano to fill up the sound and Schwarz punctuates with his harp. “Eloise” has Flynn on guitar but opens to Scwarz’ harp and Lehnert’s organ.  Schwarz come in to ask who is making love to the woman named.  The beat is medium tempo and hopping. Flynn’s solo is quite sweet and flowing.  “My Heart’s Already Broken” opens to some piano and guitar setting the tone for this slow blues.  Schwarz testifies effectively with his vocals.  Danny’s piano is quite nice and the organ by Chris is sweetly layered.  “What I Need” opens with a funky groove; Flynn and Lehnert are grooving, then Schwarz and Stilin take over.  A big organ solo is followed by a mashup of harp and guitar; quite the groove!  In “You Got it Girl,” Jim Schwarz offers up a powerful vocal line. His daughter back him on this and prior cut, too.

Moore and Lehnert both do keyboard work on “Frankie Kapankie,” a swinging tune with Moore on piano and Lehnert on organ. Schwarz vocals remain solid and Stilin plays his guitar with, well, style.  “Tell It Like it Is” features Reverend Raven on guitar while Schwarz sings and Moore more tickles the keys on some very well done organ.  Moore returns with some barrelhouse piano as the band offers up the high energy “Internet Love.”  It’s a swinging and rocking blues that talks about love across the world wide web.

“Funky Woman” is quite funky and was written by Robert Brantley, Jr., the only non-Schwarz song on the CD.  Rob Waters is on organ here, but it’s Schwarz harp and Flynn’s guitar that sell this one.  “Squeeze It” has the Rev playing with Stylin on guitar.  It’s a sexy little number that Schwarz does a great job with.  Stinging guitars and a chorus of the boys asking their baby to do what the title track says make this a very cool cut.  Lehnert offers a good organ solo here, too.  The album concludes with “Turning Point,” a very soulful song written by Leo Graham,  Jr.   The organ is very retro and the beat is pure soul.  Schwarz delivers another great vocal performance to finish out the set.

I’ve seen these guys a couple of times in and near Milwaukee and they are a great band. This CD highlights their abilities and their fantastic sound.  Great songs, great musicians and great performances make this an overall great album and I recommend it!  There are some superb blues coming to us from out in America’s Dairyland!

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