Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Album Review: Blue Voodoo, Hot Wire (my heart)

Artist: Blue Voodoo
Title: Hot Wire (My Heart)
Writing: Rick Galusha

BJ Allen’s band, ‘Blue Voodoo’ is the perfect embodiment of contemporary blues. While their proposed idiom is the blues genre this band has more in common with early 70’s rock radio than with Muddy Waters. Yes, the band had adopted the “blues” textures that Muddy pioneered when he and The Headhunters plugged-in in order to be heard over the recent immigrants to the industrial north. And yes, Blue Voodoo does what so many others are doing today; singing about being blues musicians while nary a 12-bar can be heard. If it sounds like I am complaining, I am not. Much like the political phrase, “Family Values,” in today’s musical landscape “The Blues” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. There are honest to goodness “Blues” players that rely on the traditional art-form including 12 bars with the ‘Call, Call, Response’ format. And there are ‘blues’ players that use the sounds, textures and themes, often delving into clichés, of the blues yet play a rock n’ roll structure behind it. I am not a purist but I do feel the need to differentiate the ‘until-now-hidden-secret’ behind “Blues” and “blues.” Now you know!

Blue Voodoo is a terrific band capable of fine grace; revving up when necessary and then tempering the volume when the song calls for it. With Allen on vocals the band includes; Jerry Fuller on Guitar, Piano & Organ; JP Hurd on Bass & Harp; and David Daniels on Drums. Instrumentally the band is tight and Fuller fingers can fandango on the fret boards with the best of saloon players. The band is very good and struts like a barnyard cock on the instrumental track, ‘Sounds Like “L”

Vocally, for my taste, Allen relies too heavily on the late period Etta James “grrr” as if digging deep into the soul. Amid an album that is lyrically awash with cliché lyrics Allen’s style of guttural delivery versus precision and texture wears thin. There are times when her base skills exhibit the ability to deliver clear lines but those are too seldom. With lyric lines like “Baby, hot wire my heart” and the unimaginative ‘Gypsy Woman’ which includes, “She the mad dog from Arkansas, And her bite is worse than her bark,” I pined for something more real lyrically. On the track, ‘Blue as Blue Can Get’ Allen flashes her capability which is quite adequate and really shines on ‘Written on My Heart.”

In regard to the album artwork, Blue Voodoo, like so many regional bands, makes a critical artwork faux pas. Many times inexperienced bands will include their photo on the cover and compound the misstep by including a car and an attempt at humor. Nonprofessional photos connote an amateurish venture and weaken the reception of the albums content; ever professional artists sometime make this error as seen on the new Toni Price, ‘Talk Memphis’ album cover. Consider the album artwork to be the front door of your house and, at least on the first album, you must give the listener a reason to come in rather than an excuse to walk on by. So spend money and time on the artwork (a plain white cover is better than a bad cover) least first impressions give your hard earned art a brush off.

Blue Voodoo’s Hot Wire (My Heart) shows genuine promise as the band is quite good and Allen’s vocals, currently the weak link of the album, if given time to try different deliveries and build a greater sense of comfort in the studio, will mature and show a less predictable generic style. I’d look for this band’s next effort to be well above average as the songs and arrangement indicate a fresh approach. This initial album is best suited for local fans and friends although there are a few songs which a friendly radio station could have some fun with. Depending on the bands live performances it could also be a fine ‘off-the-stage’ piece to recall a fun evening of good ‘blues’ (but not Blues.)

No comments: