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Chris Duarte and Bluestone Co. - 396

Blues Bureau International

There aren't too many bands from Japan who can whip up an intoxicating brew of rock, fusion and blues. Bluestone Co. are such a band and they are very successful at it.

And things can only get better when they work with Chris Duarte and come out with the cd entitled "396."

Duarte's albums are always packed with the Strat tones that tend to pigeonhole him as a Stevie Ray clone. But Chris doesn't focus on blues only. He is a serious rocker who pulverizes audiences with a barrage of licks that either hold them captive or chase them away.

In this instance, Duarte really steps back and lets Bluestone Co. take the reins. Sure. Chris' guitar licks are audible in the mix. Only this time he's not brandishing Lone Star attitude. He is acting as counterfoil for guitarist Toshihiro Sumitomo whose slide licks are comparable to Warren Haynes of Govt Mule.

There isn't too much blues on this sucker. "Mad As I Can Be" is slow rocking blues romp. If you are a Duarte fan whose tastes also run to Santana and the Allman Brothers, the chances are you will care less.

Title track "396" is a highly charged scorching rocker with the band charging full steam behind Chris' vocals. Duarte and Bluestone set up a nice relaxed groove that rocks hard in "Chattahoochee Side." Sumitomo's slide work boils blisters on the nasty gem of "SilverSpoon." It's more then the tones being dirty. They bruise and scar.

And if your not getting scarred, you end up being on the runaway rocker of "Put Up or Shut Up."

Clearly it's Bluestone Co.' show all the way. Their instrumental "Funky Mama" is Carlos Santana meeting Warren Haynes and soaring on a backbone of voodoo rhythm.

Bluestone Co. has an all instrumental album on GrooveYard Records entitled Supernatual Delight. And in working with Duarte, they probably made some fans in the process who will pick it up.

Review by Gary Weeks

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