Los Fabulocos, Big Walter & more...

Your chance to write big-time blues reviews. Only two rules: First, if you're connected to the band or artist, go to Shameless Promotion; Second, don't write a book -- keep it relatively short and simple, no 1,000+ word epics.

Oh .. and make it fun.

Los Fabulocos, Big Walter & more...

Postby blueswriter » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:41 pm

Hello all... it's been a while. There will be lots coming in the next couple weeks. Please stay tuned. Comments and participation always encouraged.

Los Fabulocos
Los Fabulocos
Delta Groove (2008) DGPCD125

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13 tracks. 44 minutes. Highly recommended. Pardon the cliched expression, but this disc is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. Blues fans might ponder its inclusion among the more straight-ahead blues material, however, with Kid Ramos playing a big part of the good times, these guys flat-out belong here. This writer won't claim being well-versed with the style, but for comparison's sake, listeners might liken Los Fabulocos to Tex-Mex or Tejano music, while the author of Chicano Soul, Ruben Molina, calls it Cali-Mex. If that doesn't help, think of Southwestern cowboys and Mexican mariachi musicians blending recipes and ideas for a spicy and delicious chili. Whatever the correct terminology is isn't as important as the party it might well start once it's spinning in your CD player. Jesus - that's pronounced hey-Suess - Cuevas tackles the vocal duties and contributes the dandy button accordian sounds throughout. Kid Ramos stuns his fans, offering searing electric guitar, baritone guitar (a completely different tuning from standard), bajo sexto (a big-bodied, acoustic, six string bass guitar) and Spanish guitar. James Barrios holds down the electric bass chores while the drumming is split between Mike Molina (four cuts) and Richard "El Paton" Innes (six tracks) and Lorenzo Martinez (a pair). Cuevas has a pleasing, effective voice, and his accordian work weaves tandem lines with the guitar of Ramos and bounces above the grooves. Of particular note to blues fans will be Kid blazing a six-string trail of mayhem and madness. Whether it's the gritty distortion on the slow waltz of Crazy Baby or the drilling shuffles present in the form of Day After Day and All Night Long, Ramos leaves an indelible mark. His standout here, among a dizzying array of high-mark recordings, has to be the three-minute insanity of Burnin' The Chicken. It's got a definitive Lightnin' Hopkins stamp on it, and the listener can picture a poor, flight-challenged bird running roughshod around the barnyard in an effort to save itself from the Ramos barbecue pit. Los Fabulocos is a forty-four minute party from beginning to end, and if you ain't got this gem, you ain't havin' fun - it's as simple as that. Hat's off to the entire cast and crew at Delta Groove. They've been around a short five years and have set marks more established labels can only hope to attain.

Delta Groove - Los Fabulocos


Big Walter Horton/Johnny Nicholas/Sugar Ray & The Bluetones
Bocce Boogie - Live 1978
Topcat (2008) TCT7082

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15 tracks, 71 minutes. Excellent. Bocce Boogie - Live 1978 marks a welcome addition to the small catalog of 'live' recordings from Big Walter Horton as much as it documents a thriving blues scene on the East Coast more than three decades ago. Dating from September of 1978, Horton squares off with a bevy of young New England-based blues players including Sugar Ray Norcia, Guitar Johnny Nicholas and Ronnie Youngblood, now-known as Ronnie Earl. Horton was surely in fine form within the confines of the compact Bocce Club in Westerly, Rhode Island and the evidence is spread out over more than half of this lengthy disc. Big Walter fronts the band on the swinging instrumental, Walter's Boogie, then steps to the vocal microphone for a slow and moody Trouble In Mind, with the youngsters behind him providing tough and tender support. Nicholas takes the spotlight for the slow shuffle, Cold Chills, followed by the dark and brooding That's Why I'm Cryin' with Norcia's thick chromatic harp showering the song with everything from a light mist to torrential downpours. Ronnie's guitar is also heard to great effect here and lays a perfect backdrop for Nicholas' heartfelt vocals. The title cut, Bocce Boogie, starts off a little on the rocky side, actually fitting since Westerly rests along Rhode Island's craggy Southern coast. The instrumental settles into a comfortable groove before Walter takes a left turn with the rustling La Cucaracha. Youngblood's tasteful guitar takes the intro for Robert Nighthawk's Sweet Black Angel and his slide work respectfully nods to the master while Horton lays his soul on the line with a pleading vocal. Horton also tackles Baby Please Don't Go, Don't Get Around Much Anymore and the wrenching Hard Hearted Woman, a true masterpiece which dates back to Horton's early Post-war Chicago days. Although these proceedings were laid down on a reel-to-reel tape recorder with one microphone, the sonics are much better than one might expect. Listeners can easily hear the tight rhythm section of Houserockin' Ted Harvey and Mudcat Ward (drums and bass respectively) as well as Little Anthony Geraci's fine piano work. Big Walter Horton had what can best be described as a spotty career, but he truly enjoyed working with this gathering of young-at-the-time talent, and fans will pick up on the fun this group of friends enjoyed. While there are a few potholes scattered around here and there (a small bit of tape wobble and minor incidental microphone noise), this 'live' recording is about as real as it gets and it's packed with great blues. Enjoy!

Topcat Records


Mike Morgan & The Crawl
Stronger Every Day
Severn (2008) CD 0043

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14 tracks, 68 minutes. Very good. Longtime fans of Mike Morgan should enjoy this mixed-bag offering from the Texas guitarist. It stands as Morgan's most personal effort to date, as a baker's dozen of the disc's fourteen tracks were self-penned. That being said, it's not necessarily the strongest from a blues standpoint and Morgan isn't one of the most powerful singers the Lone Star State has delivered to the blues canon. In his favor, he tackles only four titles from the vocal microphone while bassist Randy McAllister delivers five, and Lee McBee returns to offer three. Morgan's range is limited, but he stays in his zone on All Night Long, You're The One (I'll Miss The Most), The Birthday Song and How Much More Time. His birthday ditty doesn't seem to be from the pen of a fully-realized songwriter either. The lyrics are somewhat forced from a rhyming perspective and leave the song sounding more like pedestrian, juvenile fare. McAllister's five (Where's The Love, Stronger Every Day, When I Get Back Home, I Have To Set You Free and 97 Times) show a potent and powerful soul singer with great dynamics. McBee's three consist of Sweet Angel, a Louisiana-styled blues ballad, the scorching I Cried For My Baby, with Morgan's hefty guitar work well-to-the-fore and the stumbling Texas shuffle Time, the disc's closing track. The Gatemouth Brown instrumental, Okie Dokie Stomp is effortless, but Funky Thang doesn't go far and seems more like filler. Longtime fans of Mike Morgan & The Crawl will celebrate the return of Lee McBee, but with only three tracks featuring his voice, the listener gets the impression he came in as more of a guest. Overall, there's a fair amount to be liked here, but it's not without a number of shortfalls. Here's hoping Mike Morgan turns in his next effort as more of the muscular Texas Blues guitar man he's been over the years.

Severn Records - Mike Morgan

© 2009 by Craig Ruskey
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