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Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials - Jump Start

Alligator Records

There is no joy in Bluesville; the fun has left the building. Lil’ Ed and crew can usually be counted on for injecting humor occasionally into their releases, but most of that has been sucked out of this one. Is it the lack of ideas or a new approach? Much of the material here is serious or of the downer variety. Ok, this IS blues music, but Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials’ records were the place to go for some comic relief as well. The band is still strong. There is plenty of his slithering slide and many of the songs are upbeat, but something is missing.

Things get off to a rousing start with the quick-tempo of “If You Were Mine”. The closest they get to humor is the analogy of swimming as sex in “Jump Right In”. “No Fast Food” comes off sounding like their try at something like Albert Collins’ “Don’t Reach Across My Plate”, right down to the vocal phrasing. Ed serves up a signature slide workout in “Kick Me To The Curb”, as well as many other places on the record. “You Burnt Me” is a lowdown Chicago blues, one of the few here featuring no slide guitar. “Born Loser” is just what the title suggests, as the narrator lists his litany of bad qualities, all set to an upbeat groove. A change of pace is offered up on the slow burner “Life Is A Journey” as Ed gets mournful on his slide guitar. “My Chains Are Gone” is taken at a similar pace and is laced with melodic strains of slide guitar. “Moratorium On Hate” is their social statement this time around. The sentiment is fine, but the song structure is weak.

The music here is fine and energetic as usual. It seems that many of the songs are mostly a vehicle to display Lil’ Ed’s skilled slide technique. It seems like it’s time for the guys to seek outside songwriters. They could use more interesting and diverse lyrical content. It would also be nice if they brought some of the humor back into their music. If you want to see what this band is capable of on their best days, checkout out their previous CD “Full Tilt”. It has a more balanced and diverse approach. Hopefully they return to full power. To really experience the band at their best, catch one of their excellent and entertaining live shows.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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