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J. Hansen - Give the Drummer Some

Greaseland Records

11 tracks/35:50

For the past seven years, drummer J. Hansen has been a member of the Nightcats , backing Little Charlie and now Rick Estrin. His current band mates are all here - Estrin on harmonica, Lorenzo Farrell on bass, Kid Andersen on guitar and Bob Welsh on keyboards. With one exception, Hansen wrote all of the tracks and produced the recording. The songs showcase the musical forms that he is passionate about - blues, country and rock & roll. Instead of mixing his influences, Hansen writes in one style for each track. He has a solid voice with plenty of range that easily can handle the demands of his tunes.

“Firecracker” opens the proceedings with a quick burst of rockabilly. Hansen pounds out the beat, while Andersen supplies the first of his dynamic guitar solos. The abrupt ending leads straight into “I’m Takin’ Out My In-Laws,” a humorous examination of the perils of married life. Rick Estrin takes honors on the slow blues piece, “Wigglin’ on the Pole”, blowing hot harp licks that dance around Hansen’s vocal. Andersen lays down some awesome Muddy Waters-style slide licks with a full, rich guitar tone. The song examines a failed relationship with a stripper.

Hansen switches to an easy swinging jazz groove on “Equal Opportunity Lover,” which features Clint Baker on trombone. “My Little Girl” is Hansen’s tribute to his daughter done in a straight country format. Kid Andersen breaks out his wah-wah pedal on “No Good”, a funky track with one of Hansen’s strongest vocals. Hansen slows the pace on “Really Living”, a ‘50s style ballad with Welsh’s piano driving the arrangement and Andersen contributing a brief but intense guitar interlude. “Workin’ Man” is a tune that falls squarely on the point where country morphed into rockabilly - the beat a little harder and faster, Hansen’s singing using inflections common to the early rockers. The disc closes with minimal take on “Mack the Knife”, serving as a showcase for Hansen’s skills as a drummer. The cut is less effective due to his too hip vocal .

It might be tough for Hansen to get attention for this release as it will be competing with the new Rick Estrin and the Nightcats title on Alligator Records. In fact, one of the strongest cuts on this disc, “I’m Takin’ Out My In-Laws”, has a lengthier version on the Estrin disc. The other drawback to Hansen’s recording is the short playing time. That said, Hansen sings and drums with gusto on a batch of listenable original tunes. The support is impeccable, especially from Kid Andersen. Give the Drummer Some is not an essential purchase but it is definitely a solid listen..

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

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