Nick Moss & The Flip Tops

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Nick Moss & The Flip Tops

Postby blueswriter » Wed May 06, 2009 11:00 pm

Hey gang... as a reviewer and music critic with more than a few years under my belt, I'm supposed to be an objective writer. There are, however, occasions when that presents itself as a difficult challenge. This would be one of those occasions. Not only was I in attendance for this remarkable 'live' recording session over two nights, I was also asked to pen the liner notes by a dear friend and a musician I hold in the highest regard. However, when I first heard Nick a good number of years ago (and well before we actually met), I thought he'd rise to the top quickly because of his abilities and dedication. Knowing him now as a true-and-trusted friend, I'm glad my predictions were correct. I also think it's important to stress that everything I say in this review is because Nick and the gang play this stuff right. They all get right down to the point and play from the heart. I'm truly honored to have been a part of this. I just thought readers should know. 8)

Nick Moss And The Flip Tops - With Special Guest Lurrie Bell
Live At Chan's - Combo Platter No. 2
Blue Bella (2009) BBCD 1012


10 tracks, 79 minutes. Highly recommended. Who said lightnin' don't strike in the same place twice? Try proving that it can't to Nick Moss And The Flip Tops, fans of this ultra-powerful Chicago Blues outfit, or the packed house at Chan's in Woonsocket, RI for two nights in July last year. The band's Live At Chan's disc from 2006 (available on Blue Bella 1005) received astounding critical acclaim upon its release, and Nick decided a return to the Rhode Island institution was needed. But Moss and the crew didn't just go back to 'do it all over again' - they upped the stakes by bringing the one-and-only Lurrie Bell. Was it a successful mission? One listen to the opener, Spare Ribs & Chopsticks, will answer that question with a resounding response in the affirmative. The blistering Chicago groove gets its granite-solid footing from the rhythm section of Bob Carter (drums) and Gerry Hundt (bass), with Willie Oshawny attaching his signature rippling piano, but it's Moss who truly shines here. Those who have followed Nick's career thus far have witnessed the transformation of one man from a respected blues journeyman into a galvanized frontman. His guitar and vocal efforts have risen accordingly to meet the challenges of life on the road. His stunning vocals on the brooding Try And Treat You Right are laced with passion and conviction while his guitar stutters and shakes with fiery dynamics. Veteran Flip Top Gerry Hundt steps comfortably into the spotlight and delivers standout electric mandolin and vocals for Whiskey Makes Me Mean, a sizzling shuffle, as Nick nails down the effective rhythmic underpinning. Hundt hands in some brutally tough harmonica to Nick's I Got All Kinds Of Love, and the band's effortless yet considerable sensitivity on the Curtis Jones classic Lonesome Bedroom Blues overflows with a sense of pathos that defies description. The bristling Fill 'er Up shows more of Hundt's harp skills, Nick's warmly distorted guitar, Oshawny's tasteful piano and Carter's propelling drum work. And for anyone wondering who lays down the rumbling bass over this handful, it's Nick's wife Kate. The fireworks come fast and furious when Lurrie Bell steps on stage for the next three tracks. Tampa Red's Don't You Lie To Me is packed with his crunching guitar ringing loud and clear. Eddie Boyd's Five Long Years clocks in at thirteen minutes, but there isn't a wasted moment nor are there any grandstanding guitar heroics. It's a perfectly paced blues loaded with tension and a flat out, jaw-dropping performance. Willie Dixon's I'm Ready is everything it's expected to be: gritty, tight-fisted and rugged. It's heart-warming knowing that Lurrie has stepped out from the shadows and back into the spotlight with renewed focus. If that's not enough, the interplay and unspoken communication between Bell and Moss (and indeed the band) on this trio of songs is simply remarkable. The seventy-nine minute disc closes out with Nick's I Wanna Know, and as listeners reflect on what they just absorbed one thing becomes crystal clear; this most recent Nick Moss And The Flip Tops CD should easily take its place as one of the finest live blues recordings ever. It's raw, it's off-the-cuff and it shows a true working band feeding off of each other and the palpable energy of an enthusiastic crowd. If you consider yourself a loyal soldier in the blues army, you had better have this disc. If not, hand in your resignation post-haste. This sets up square in the center on the top-shelf!

© 2009 by Craig Ruskey
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