FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King – Close To The Bone

Delta Groove Music

14 tracks; 57.26 minutes

Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King have been around for a long time making great Texas roadhouse music, characterised by the interplay between their different guitar styles, Bnois being more of a jazz-inflected player than Joe’s fiery blues style. Moving to a new label seems to have inspired them to go for a real change of style with an acoustic album, something of a throwback to the craze for ‘unplugged’ albums in the 90s. The material chosen is predominantly original and the acoustic format allows us to appreciate both Bnois’ distinctive vocals and the lyrics. Both frontmen play guitars (helpfully separated on left and right channels) and a fair spread of Delta Groove talent is on hand to assist: harmonica players Randy Chortkoff and Bob Corritore play on two cuts each, Lynwood Slim and Big Pete on a single cut each (although three play on “Keep Her Around”); Fred Kaplan’s piano is added to one track, Willie J Campbell’s bass to three, Jimi Bott’s drums to four, Jeff Scott Fleenor’s suitcase drum to one and, if two acoustic guitars were not enough, Paul Size also plays on two cuts, Kirk Fletcher on six and Shawn Pittman plays National Steel on one – phew!

Album opener “Poor Boy Blues” is one of the few covers, written by Willard Thomas, and sets out the duo’s stall from the start with some fine, sweeping playing, just the duo on this track. Drums and additional guitars add to “Can’t Let Go”, making the track very catchy, Kirk Fletcher playing a nice solo. “My Best Friend” is just Joe and Bnois and has some very delicate picking with a trace of Mexican styling and an emotional lyric about growing up too fast and ignoring sensible advice from an older counsellor. The multi-harp track “Keep Her Around” is a great uptempo romp with the multiple harp players each getting a separate channel! “Get Out There And Get It” is a call to action for those in hard times and takes the riff from Little Milton’s “More And More” as a starting point while “Yankin’ My Chain” has more of a down home feel to it.

“Drowning In Red Ink” has the Mannish Boys rhythm section and Fred Kaplan’s piano on a soulful tune in which Bnois’ gritty vocal tells of the working man’s struggles in hard times: “they’re cutting back on everybody’s pay, all but the boss, you know he got a raise.” Bnois’ solo is beautifully set against Joe’s slide playing and Kirk’s acoustic. “My Hat’s Off To You” is back to the duo format before “No Good Could Come Of This” adds Bob Corritore’s exceptional harp to enliven a cautionary tale of a chance meeting with a tattooed lady in a bar – will the singer end up with her or resist temptation? You’ll have to listen to the track to find out!

“Ordinary Man” is a trio of acoustic guitars on a very bluesy tune which sounds like it might well be revamped in live electric shows in the future. “She Got Rid Of Me” is just the duo and more fine picking on a sad tale of how the girl dumped his guy as soon as she had completed her education! “Jump The Moon” has the suitcase drum and recounts how young musicians start out on the road, tales of bright lights and fortunes to be made in towns like Memphis and Chicago. The second cover on the album is Alger Alexander’s “Mama’s Bad Luck Child” on which Lynwood Slim’s lonesome harp adds to the desolate feel of the song. The album closes with “Baby You’re The One”, another quiet song which is musically rather downbeat but contains a positive message about their relationship.

This album is a dramatic change for the Kubek/King combination but it works well, emphasising the songs and the delicate interplay between the guitarists and their collaborators. Fans of the electric band should give this CD a listen and hear another side to these two players.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design