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B.B. and the Blues Shacks - Come Along

CrossCut Records

16 songs; 58:08 minutes

Styles: Jazz-Influenced Blues, R&B

From the name of their band, and the sounds of their voices, blues fans might never guess that B.B. and the Blues Shacks hail from “Deutschland” (note the “.de” tag on their website address). However, Michael Arlt and the other members of this quirky quintet prove that the blues is alive - around the world! They were founded more than twenty years ago in the city of Hildesheim in northern Germany. Originally devoted to original R&B and early electric blues, they soon incorporated jump blues and the music of seminal masters such as T-Bone Walker and Little Walter. Michael Arlt on vocals and harmonica, Andreas Arlt on guitar, pianist/organist Dennis Koeckstadt, bassist Henning Houerken, and drummer Bernard Egger invite listeners to “Come Along” and enjoy their sixth album. Released this year, it features sixteen striking originals that mix pure blues with solid R&B and a dash of jazz. Which three will blues fans consider as satisfying as Oktoberfest? This reviewer presents some top picks:

Track 04: “If I Should Ever Lose Your Love”--Blues and romance intermingle in this heartfelt serenade from the Shacks. Its most beautiful feature is the multiple-part harmonic vocals. Michael Arlt’s own pipes are showcased to best effect here, smoothly coinciding with Tom Müller on alto and baritone sax, and Stefan Gössinger on trumpet. Arlt laments: “Up and down the road I preach, ‘cause I can’t stand to have you way out of my reach.” His ‘sermon’ (my term) is a plea for forgiveness to his sweetheart, not yet estranged but possibly to be so. Smooth and seductive, this is the perfect slow-dance number.

Track 05: “Get My Stuff Together”--This gritty, stompin’ shuffle’s title is a metaphorical explanation of what our narrator has to do during hard times. “Man, I’ve been working all day from nine to five. There’s never enough pay for all my struggle and strive…Every month I’m worried about my rent. If things don’t get better, I got to sleep in a tent!” Houerken’s bass and Michael Arlt’s harmonica blast the truth relentlessly beside Andreas’s tasty guitar licks.

Track 11: “Doesn’t Matter Anymore”--Infidelity can ruin even the strongest relationships, as this accusatory tango proves. A surprisingly-evocative image will flash in listeners’ minds during the third verse: “We wanted to grow old on our porch. Where once was my heart, now there’s a scorch. And everything we’ve been longing for now don’t matter anymore.” The blazing saxophone and harmonica solos in the middle accentuate its fiery ferocity.

Included with this beautiful CD package is a twenty-page booklet of color photos and lyrics, a great help to listeners who want to catch every nuance of the Shacks’ blues narration. “Come Along” with them as they give their considerable all to top quality styling in American R&B, proving once again the international appeal of blues! 

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 33 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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