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Andreas Arlt – All Time Favorites

Crosscut Records

15 tracks; 53.32 minutes

BB And The Blues Shacks is a German blues band that has been running for twenty years and has issued many CDs. The band was founded by brothers Andreas (guitar) and Michael Arlt (harmonica) and this CD is the first solo effort by Andreas. Andreas’ intention was to revisit some of his early influences, often selecting less familiar material and artists, with the intention of making a more traditional album than would be the case with the band and bringing some of those early influences to a wider audience. In selecting such ‘vintage’ material Andreas demonstrates how rock and roll developed, emerging from the big band sounds of the 40s and the smaller Rn’B combos of the 50s. In his own words “this album represents a cross-section of my inspirations, an appreciation of my personal heroes, freshly packaged.”

The quality of the recording is absolutely first rate and the players on the session, all German, are excellent. The recording was made in Vienna, Austria, with a full band of bass, drums, guitar, keys, sax, trumpet and trombone: the horn arrangements by sax player Tom Müller are outstanding. Chicago guitarist Dave Specter provides interesting sleeve notes and Andreas covers the background to each track selection in some detail, making the whole CD a brilliant introduction to these classic sounds. For guitar buffs the instrument used on each track is noted and, as befits a CD issued by a German label the sleevenotes appear in German as well as English.

So, what material has been chosen here? The more familiar tunes include “You’ve Got Bad Intentions”, a hit for Bobby Bland and “I Wonder Why”, a hit for BB King. Johnny Guitar Watson is included by a cover of Leroy Carr’s “In The Evening” and T-Bone Walker starts the CD off with “Street Walkin’ Woman”, both less familiar choices than is often the case. At the other end of the spectrum Texan Goree Carter was a new name to me, as was his tune “Hoy Hoy” from 1949 and “Let’s Start A Romance” is an obscure cut from Little Joe Hinton. Even when closing the CD with an Albert Collins instrumental, Andreas has opted for the lesser known “Snow Cone Pt. 2”, so although none of the material on the album is original it all sounds pretty fresh.

Within his chosen era Andreas gives us a fair range of styles. “She’s The One” is a Hank Ballard song covered by Freddie King and offers some tough Texas guitar; “High Low” could well be Roomful of Blues; “It Hurts To Love Someone” is a typical Guitar Slim ‘churner’; “Shooty Booty” is early rock and roll from Ivory Joe Hunter; “I Was Wrong! Played With Love” is a slow, dramatic Southern number, originally by Roscoe Shelton. Andreas sings well with barely a trace of accent and his guitar solos are all relatively short and to the point, no ‘showboating’ anywhere. Equally there are some excellent opportunities for the horn players to shine, notably the sax (both tenor and baritone) of Tom Müller.

If you enjoy well played, horn-driven rhythm and blues I am sure you will enjoy this CD which I can recommend most highly. Personally I’m now off to find out more about BB And The Blues Shacks!

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.

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