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Ron Hacker And The Hacksaws - Filthy Animal

Self Release


As a mainstay of the San Francisco blues scene for umpteenth years, Ron Hacker has developed a greasy slide guitar sound equal to his greasy, weathered vocals. Seeing a line-up listing of guitar-bass-drums instantly makes me cringe as visions of hackneyed blues-rock bar bands dance through my head. Thankfully that is not the case here as Ron and co-horts adhere to a well-grounded gritty blues sound. Ron and crew know their way around a swinging blues groove. Veteran bass player Artis Joyce is there and every turn in the road, oft times providing a very melodic pattern. He served time with Charlie Musselwhite as well as many other blues outfits. Drummer Bryant Mills provides snap, crackle and pop as needed. The vocal approach on the cover tunes doesn’t mimic the original, rather Ron’s weathered blues voice fits like a glove, as if he wrote it.

Not a bum track to be found hereabouts, but I’m partial to the two associated with Howlin’ Wolf and one each by Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House. He takes The Wolf’s “Evil” at a slower pace and shoots it full of some ominous sliding slide guitar. “Meet Me In The Bottom” starts life with some nifty stick work and proceeds as a pretty straight reading with the usual spot-on slide work. The Son House signature tune “Death Letter Blues” works more than just fine as an electric tune featuring and some nice, melodic bass playing. Hacker commits himself just as well on acoustic slide as witnessed on Fred McDowell’s down-home “Goin To The River”. The give-and-take duet between Leah Tysee and Ron on Memphis Minnie’s “You Gotta Move, Part 1” that kicks off the cd is seamless craftsmanship at its best. I’m liking Leah’s honey-soaked blues voice. The original “Bad Boy” benefits from some Debbie Davies stinging solos to compliment the stinging slide. His voice here just drips with world-weary sincerity. A Slim Harpo instrumental tune I’m unfamiliar with, “Gonna Miss You”, is a virtual showcase for more slithering slide. Come to think of it this record is a slide guitar lover’s paradise. The leader’s knack for writing originals that sound from back in the day is shown again on “Why”, a song of lost love. The excellent saxophone playing of Nancy Wright adds to the bar band vibe of the tune. “Filthy Animal (Chameleon)” is a band workout based on Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” that highlights the finger work of bass man Artis Joyce along with drummer Bryant Mills’ snappy drumming.

Records like this make a reviewer’s job easy and more enjoyable. It’s like an old and reliable friend or an old battered pair of slippers. It’s funky and raggedy in a perfect way. Ron’s gravel voice and gritty guitar tone mesh to create rockin’ blues goodness. The rhythm section does more than back him up, they add nuances so you hear new things at every new listening. And I for one will be doing much more of that.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at

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