The Jimmys – Gotta Have It | Album Review

The Jimmys – Gotta Have It

Brown Cow Productions BCP 006

13 songs – 51 minutes

Fronted by keyboard player Jimmy Voegeli and guitarist Perry Weber, The Jimmys are one smoking horn band who’ve been taking the chill off cold Wisconsin nights and spreading joy around the world for the better part of the past two decades, delivering their own brand of blues-rich R&B. They consistently deliver standout performances wherever they appear, but reach new heights on this album, which features Gulf Coast legend Marcia Ball in the lineup.

Based south of Madison a short drive north of the Cheddar Curtain separating the Badger State from Illinois, The Jimmys have about as much fun as the law allows on stage, something that comes through loud and clear in the digital grooves of Gotta Have It. The disc was recorded at Makin’ Sausage Studio in Milwaukee and produced by Braunagel, an 11-time nominee for Blues Music Awards percussionist of the year.

Voegeli – a triple threat on piano, Hammond B-3 organ and clavinet – and Weber – who spent years living and playing with Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin – share vocals throughout backed by an eight-piece unit that consistently shows that they’re a hard-drinking party band, something that comes into clear focus when you see Jose Cuervo tequila, the folks at New Glarus Brewing Company and a local liquor store all thanked in the liner notes.

The six-piece horn section includes Peterson Ross (sax) and Mike Bowman (trumpet), both of whom worked in support of Clyde Stubblefield, James Brown’s original funky drummer, for years. They’re augmented by Kevan Feyzi and Kyle Samuelson on trombone, Kurt Shipe on trumpet and Al Falaschi on baritone sax.

John Wartenweiler doubles on electric and upright bass and teams with Braunagel, who sits in for regular drummer Chris Sandoval on the bottom, with Wally Ingram providing additional percussion. Ball shares lead vocals on one cut and provides additional backing, joined by Melodye Perry and Mike Finnigan, Tony’s longtime running mate with Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and Phantom Blues Band.

Voegeli penned seven and Weber four of the 13 tracks here, augmented with one cover by Grammy winners Gary Nicholson and Kevin McKendree and another written from Jim Liban, the revered blues harp player from Milwaukee.

“Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” charges out of the gate as Weber warns that his lady has a “mean streak a mile long.” Brief solos throughout show that these guys mean business. The funky, stop-time pleaser, “Grim Reaper,” finds Voegeli wondering about an afterlife and promising he won’t give up the ghost without a fight as he expresses no fear about a little sin and that he’s ready to demand that St. Peter let him in.

The must-listen “Write a Hit” is up next. Co-written by Jimmy, Marcia and Tony, it’s a duet delivered at the end of a relationship. Voegeli and Ball trade verses that describe the lady taking the house, the dog and all his money, leaving him only with his clothes and new Cadillac. She ends up telling him he needs to write a hit song because: “I didn’t blow it, Jack!” Jimmy’s keyboards shine throughout.

The horns chug steadily on “She Gotta Have It,” which describes a gal with expensive tastes, before “Started Up Again,” which has a swamp-blues feel, finds trouble brewing in the relationship again. The rocking “Hotel Stebbins” promises the band will be partying the night away in room 11 after the gig tonight. Weber’s straight-ahead shuffle notes that “Drinkin’” gets him in trouble every time before Voegeli’s back in charge, delivering advice from his father: that “When You Got Love,” treat your gal right because “she’ll love you ‘til your dying day.”

A cover of the Nicholson-McKendree Billy Joel hit, “Always a Woman,” follows before the cautionary “Words and Actions” delivers more relationship advice. Liban’s slow blues, “Someday Baby,” gives Weber space to shine on six-string before the percussive “Take You Back” and “Jose,” an instrumental fiesta celebrating tequila, bring the action to a close.

If you like horn bands, you’ll love this one. The Jimmys are one of the top bands anywhere. Available through most major online retailers or direct from the band (address above), this one’s going on my short list for prospective best albums of the year.

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