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King Robinson and the Housewreckers
Hit the Big Time
Highland Lake Records, 2006

Review by Dale Clark

I liked this band and have enjoyed playing this CD. This is a modest album with a quiet, carefully crafted, mature, self-assured feel.

The harmonica playing of the mythical frontman King Robinson (Rob Sulski) is often outstanding. There is a penetrating harp squeal on “Ice Cream Man,” a gentle rocking harp undercurrent on Little Walter’s “Done Got Tired of You,” a gut bucket of filthy harp grunge on “So Sorry Darlin’,” and the lovely patient development of the harp line on “Doin’ the Best I Can.”

The guitar work of Bruce Williams, Mike Landers, and Eric Van Duyne also deserves commendation. There is an impressive guitar solo on “Five Long Years,” and some great jazzy guitar “noodlin’” on “I’m Worried” and “Crawlin’ Kingsnake.”

The album notes include a hilarious tale of how a Mississippi blues man’s love child came to be raised in a Polish –American household in Chicago. But it is this fantastic legend and the title of the collection that goes to the crucial issue of Hit the Big Time. Does the music merit the legend, and have King Robinson and the Housewreckers hit the big time?

Thirteen of the fourteen songs are covers, the fourteenth a brief acoustic guitar instrumental. The arrangements of the songs are a good mirror of much of the blues being played in the American Midwest these days. What is missing on this King Robinson and the Housewreckers record is the desire to say something of their own that would make us want to spread the legend, and also the insistence of musical innovation that signals arrival at the “big time.” I commend “big time” ambition, but announcing it raises big questions that require big answers that are still to come.

Dale Clark

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