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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Friday, April 15, 2016

Ruf Records artists: Jane Lee Hooker - No B! - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, No B!, from Jane Lee Hooker and it's a riot!! I got to tell you, when I saw the name I was dubious but one look at the cover I was intrigued. I'm thinking L7 and John Lee Hooker... and I'm thinking... let's get it on! This excellent release opens with powerhouse, Wade In The Water written by John Wesley Work II and he never heard it this way in his head... believe me. This is kick ass from the first note with Dana "Danger" Athens on lead vocal, "Hail Mary" Zadroga on bass, Tracy "High Top" on guitar Melissa "Cool Whip" Houston on drums and Tina "TBone" Gorin on guitar. Rockin excellent! Johnny Winter's Mean Town Blues is up next and it's mind blowing! Zadroga and Houston set a smokin' pace and Athens knows how to steer this runaway locomotive. I really love the raw energy of this band and High Top and TBone's guitar exchanges. Excellent! Ray Charles has got to be sitting back listening to I Believe In My Soul with the hair standing up on the back of his neck. These musicians grab this track by the collar and throw it around like a rag doll. Powerful, soulful and razor edged, this track is over the top. These guys know how to squeeze ever bit of blues out of a track and kick it's butt. The way it was meant to be...not soft smooth and polished but raw, scratchy and dangerous! Excellent! Kansas Joe McCoy's Bumble Bee has the most straightforward blues approach of any track on the release.  With concise guitar soloing from both guitarists and emphasis on more constrained vocals, this track has a more contemporary blues sound. Original track, In The Valley departs from the pure blues for a power pop track with a sweaty edge. With tight rhythms, slashing lead guitar work and a steady beat, this track is cool! Otis Redding's Free Me, holds it's strong soul heart and Athens really works it into a lather. A powerful support from the band gives it a rockier edge but this is pure soul. Very nice! Booker T's, The Hunter, takes on a more modern rock bottom but with it's original hook reinforced by the tandem guitars. Not letting off at all, Gorin, Zadroga and High Top ride high on Houston's solid foundation. What a rocker! OK...Muddy Waters never thought of this, but I bet he would have smiled ear to ear hearing this rendition of Champagne and Reefer. With it's slinky pace, soulful vocals and grinding guitar support to Athen's vocals, this is a great interpretation of an absolute classic. With High Top and Tbone trading lead riffs, this is smoking. Milt Gabler's Didn't It Rain is a super rocker a hot bass line and crisp drums. Holding it's spiritual quality and with a pure rock and roll beat, this track has you jumping. Again returning to the Muddy Waters songbook JLH pulls out a heavily powerful Mannish Boy.. You really got to hear this to appreciate it. Pounding through this Muddy Waters classic this band wields a heavy stick, taking out everything in their path. Very nice! Wrapping the release is Willie Dixon's Shake For Me, with Gorin and High Top playing call and response over Zagroga and Houston's hard rock bottom. Kicking it into high gear the band rocks the blues right up to the finish. This is an impressive band. Looking forward to seeing them in person!

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