The Porkroll Project – Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right
Roadhouse Redemption Records – 2021
11 tracks; 56.56 minutes
After a decade-long hiatus since their third album The Porkroll Project returns with a solid set of music with blues, southern rock and rock and roll influences. The band is anchored round guitarist Neil ‘Porkroll’ Taylor who is also the main songwriter with eight credits (two with co-writer credits for William Bryan and Ed Young), harp player Buddy Cleveland contributing one song, plus two covers. The rest of the band is Walter Runge on keys, Anthony Pieruccini on bass, John ‘JT’ Thomas on drums and David Renz on sax; Chris Neal (trumpet) and Andrew Whisler (trombone) beef up the horn section on one track. Former band member Paul Matecki handles the vocals on two cuts and Jesse Taylor plays bass on one track. The album was recorded on home turf in Pennsylvania.
The title track makes a great start, Southern Rock with warm Hammond and striking guitar leads as Neil sings of a character growing up in tough circumstances, ending up heading down the dark side of the road, because “Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right”. We are then immediately taken south of the border with a cover of the 1957 Coasters song “Down In Mexico”, written by Leiber & Stoller, a catchy tune with Paul delivering entertaining lyrics like “he wears a red bandana, plays a cool piana”. “Going To The Station” has some excellent piano and sax over a mid-tempo rhythm with a classic blues lyric about jumping “down on the railroad track, ease my troubled mind”, while “Crescent Moon” is a slow blues with breathy sax.
Neil’s comic song “Better You Than Me” is very much in Kipling’s Jungle Book style as monkey, dog and cheetah are involved in tricking each other. The jagged rhythms are echoed in the keyboard work on “Mama Put The Gun Down”, Neil asking Ma to stop shooting up the house, there has to be a less destructive way to get rid of an unwanted guy! Peter Rowan’s “Dancing With The Angels” was originally recorded by New Grass Revival and might best be described as country-gospel, the second song featuring Paul’s vocals. In contrast “Nothin’ Yet” is a tough-sounding tune with menacing lyrics about meeting a stranger “shrouded in mist and smoke”, the harp and torrid guitar solo suiting the feel of the tune well. A bright, upbeat rocker follows, Neil including references to songs like “She Caught The Katy” in the lyrics to “Next Thing Smoking”, which sounds like a plea to his ex to let him know if she tires of her new life, though the final verse reveals that what he really wants is to say that it’s over to her face! The three-man horn section adds considerable heft to “Sentenced To The Blues”, a slow blues written by Buddy whose harp gets a solo feature alongside David’s sax. “A Taste Of Malt Liquor” is Neil’s lively tribute to a favourite drink, a fun tune to close out the album.
There is plenty to enjoy on this one if your tastes range a bit wider than pure blues.