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Big Head Todd & The Monsters - Big Head Blues Club - 100 years of Robert Johnson

Ryko Records

Alternative rockers Big Head Todd And The Monsters decide to go under an alias of the Big Head Blues Blues Club releasing a cd entitled 100 years of Robert Johnson.

As with most artists that release these so called "tribute albums," the heart is there but the soul isn't. Overall there is nothing groundbreaking about this cd and it doesn't re-invent the wheel in any way.

The main problem is Mohr's vocal like whine and his attempt to sound like an old bluesman weakens the strength of the songs rather then enhanching them.

It can help having an all-star cast appear throughout the tracks. Charlie Musselwhite's harp breathes some life into "Come On In My Kitchen." And Ruthie Foster's vocals sound at home in "When You Got A Good Friend."

At best the songs shuffle and meander along with the necessary blues hooks. But the slick production kills the vibe of having hellhounds on the trail.

Even when B.B. King puts his vocals and sweet guitar tones on "Crossroad Blues," it doesn't sound like the musicians want to even make a pact with the devil but to play nice with him.

Some shiny moments do occur. Cedric Burnside's drumming with it's hill country overtones kicks the fire in "Preachin Blues" and sends "If I Had Possession" right towards the crossroads.

Still credit has to be given to The Monsters for trying. Experimenting is nice. But if you want to play Robert Johnson songs, don't pour the sugar so much as soak them in rockgut.

Review by Gary "Wingman" Weeks

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