Wild Boogie Combo – Black Hills Country Blues
Around The Shack Records – 2020
10 tracks; 29 minutes
Jake Calypso is a French musician mainly known as a rockabilly player though he also plays blues, having made one album with Archie Lee Hooker and another, as yet unreleased album recorded in Mississippi. The Wild Boogie Combo is a separate outlet, a trio of Jake on guitar/vocals, Mister Ruine B on harmonica and Terry ‘TT’ Reilles on drums. The band has produced three previous albums; Jake writes all the material and this album was recorded in a single day at Jake’s studio. The cover shows some black and white images of what Jake calls his “own Mississippi” with a mountain of coal mining debris, showing the former activity of the region where he lives in Northern France.
The band claims to be influenced by Junior Kimbrough, Son House, Tony Joe White and Dr Ross and there are certainly some North Mississippi Hill Country elements to opening track “Magic Pill” with the repetitive rhythm and hard-blowing harp. Unfortunately Jake is not a strong vocalist and it is not always easy to catch the lyrics, a problem that recurs across the album. The band mentions that gospel music is also an influence on their style and several tracks have titles that suggest a gospel link: “A Praised Day” keeps up the rhythmic attack with Jake playing a rockabilly style of guitar before the pace drops for “Lord Showed Me The Way” on which the vocals are, frankly, awful; Jake adopts a lighter style of singing for “The Devil In My House” and the harp playing is effective on this one; perhaps the most obviously gospel track is the short “I Pray For Him” which is acapella apart from handclaps.
Of the remaining tracks on this short album “She Is An Unhappy Baby” has more rockabilly guitar stylings and strong harp playing, “Black Day”, “Baby Hold Me” and “Eggs And Bacon” are very repetitive and difficult to understand at all. On “Saturday Night Boogie” the intent seems clearer as Jake invites us to go to town with him in a semi-spoken vocal as harp and drums pound out the rhythm.
Difficult to recommend this album but fans of the band will be pleased to have a new release to add to their collection.