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Mannish Boys - Big Plans - Electro Groove / Delta Groove

By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
15 songs; 57:39 minutes; Excellent

Perhaps it would be good to include a fourth category at the beginning of each review called “blues content.” Besides the number of songs, album length, and rating, fans might like to know what the blues album offers: rock, r & b, soul, country, or actual blues. For this, and the previous two Mannish Boys albums, blues content is five out of five – most all in the Chicago Blues vein!

Named for the Muddy Waters song, the Mannish Boys are all-stars from the West Coast assembled by Delta Groove head honcho Randy Chortkoff. Most of the members either lead or are integral members of successful touring and recording bands.

On Big Plans, vocal contributions come from Finis Tasby and Johnny Dyer (plus harp), and guest vocals are by Jody “Return of a Legend” Williams, Bobby Jones, and Rob Rio. Guitar duties are handled by Kid Ramos, Frank Goldwasser, Kirk “Eli” Fletcher, and guest guitarists are Rick Holstrom and Jody Williams. M.B. electric bassist Tom Leavey gets support from upright bass guests Larry Taylor and Jeff Turmes while pianist Leon Blue finds guest Rob Rio at the piano on half the songs. Boss Randy Chortkoff adds vocals on one track and harmonica on two, but guest Mitch Kashmar honks on two tracks while David Woodford blows saxophone on six. The drummer on all tracks is Richard Innes who keeps the beat steady for all 15 tracks.

For me, I would buy the CD just for the two Jody Williams songs. That is how good his voice is, and his guitar playing (backed here by Holstrom) is legendary with Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Rush, and on his own early singles. Another price-of-admission track is the up tempo “I Can’t Stay Here” with lyrics and lead slide guitar by Frank “Paris Slim” Goldwasser. “Mary Jane,” written by Leavey but sung by Bobby Jones, is a fun romp with just enough double entendre to keep the listener guessing whether the protagonist’s passion is carnal or herbal. For some blues heaven check Kid Ramos’ super clean guitar backed by Rob Rio’s piano and Tasby’s vocals on “I Get So Worried.”

With both strong originals and seldom heard covers of songs by artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Rogers, and Otis Rush, plus first-class production, readers should make “big plans” to grab this volume of contemporary blues done right!

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