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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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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Delmark Records artist: Rockin' Johnny Band - Grim Reaper - New Release Review

I just got a copy of Grim Reaper, the new Rockin' Johnny Band and it is great! Rockin' Johnny (Burgin)on guitars and vocals has built a strong support band in Rick Kreher on rhythm guitar, David "Big D" Erickson on harp, John Sefner on bass and Steve Bass on drums. I gotta tell you this music is pure Chicago blues but although it sounds really authentic, it doesn't sound rehashed or tired. It sounds fresh, new and hot! With at least 5 of the tracks being originals, Rockin' Johnny has assembled a solid 15 track set that opens with the title track, Grim Reaper. This is a great slow blues with not only solid soulful vocals but a tight band and great expressive guitar solos. If you don't love this song, just take the CD off. This is the real deal. Window To Your Soul is another RJ original and another really strong entry. Johnny's guitar playing has a lot of the little short runs and frenzied looseness that so define the early Chicago blues players and they beautifully compliment the entire release. Jody Williams' I Was Fooled is another outstanding track on the release, uptempo and loping with again very defined guitar work as well as Big D blowin' some sweet harp. Lousy Dimes is a mid cooker with Big D taking a pretty long harp solo and RJ playing a cool expressive but not overtly flashy guitar solo. A new interpretation of Rollin' and Tumblin' shows imagination with more of a jazz/blues feel and once again Johnny pulls out some great riffs. I really like it. Another original, It's Expensive To Be Broke, is another great slow cooker, this time with Kenny Anderson, Dudley Owens and Jerry DiMuzio on horns bringing up the bottom. It's a great opportunity to get Johnny into the slow groove playing that sweet slow blues on his guitar. Otis Rush's My Baby's A Good 'Un sets up well again for Johnny to sing the blues and to use his terrific expressive playing skills. Big D penned Brand New Boots is a terrific slow instrumental giving not only Johnny but also Big D great opportunities to show their stuff. My Sweet Baby, in the Elmore James ring has Johnny playing slide. Johnny takes a new look at Fenton Robinson's Loan Me A Dime and I think that he does a terrific job on it. Unlike a number of covers that have preceded him, he gives it his own style and it is a great track which sounds fresh and original. Check the guitar playing on this track. Just really "on" it. Another RJ original, Shoe Leather and Tire Rubber is a cool track. It hard to describe the nuances that make this such a great recording but it is consistently from top to bottom. Big D takes a nice harp solo on this track for guys like me that have to hear that solo on every song. Little Walter Jacobs' Everybody Needs Somebody is up next and it fits perfectly into the set. Rockin' Johnny plays an extended guitar solo on this track and I sit wondering where Johnny's been for the past 10 years. If I haven't made it clear, this is a great recording. If you like guitar, if you like harp, if you like blues this is a great cd!!
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