Terry Davidson & The Gears - Damnation Blues
12 songs; 47:10 minutes; Meritable
Styles: Rock, Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Blues-Rock, Blues
To paraphrase Too Slim & The Taildraggers, this CD is “Ground Poundin,’ Nitro Burnin’ Blues-Rock, Baby!” This recording reminds me of earlier times when cars and racing were well featured in songs like “Little Deuce Coup,” “Little GTO,” “409,” and “Dead Man’s Curve.” I can imagine NASCAR champion Jimmy Johnson turning off his 2-way radio headset during a race and, instead, listening to this album for inspiration to bring home another checkered flag. Even the name of their record label, “Bangshift,” brings humorous thoughts of hard shifting hotrods before Hurst patented their synchronized shifters (“Shift as hard as you want, but don’t break your arm!”).
Ohio’s Terry Davidson & the Gears are veterans of the Heartland's music scene. They have been playing around the Eastern U.S. for over twenty years. Terry's first band formed in 1965. The Barracudas were hailed as Columbus, Ohio’s youngest professional Rock and Roll band. Today, Terry’s love of the Blues and Blues-Rock are at the forefront of his music. Busier than ever, Terry finds not only his band shows but also his solo and duo shows are in demand. He played at the 2007 International Blues Challenge in Memphis with long time bandmate Bob “the Wrench” Hanners. With The Gears, formed in 1983, Terry Davidson has released six albums with each CD containing more original material. Ten of the twelve songs on “Damnation Blues” are Davidson written or co-penned.
Starting this CD in the player is like popping the clutch and burning down the tree in a cloud of smoke at a NHRA drag race. The entire band launches the track one, title song simultaneously. It is a rip-snorting number with layers of lead guitar and slide guitar courtesy of Davidson. Nate Hollman on keyboards was not about to be hole shot as his pounding races right beside Davidson all the way down the track. Bart Jenkins on bass and Larz Raymond on drums are clearly the motor and the oil propelling this romp.
And, if you thought all that racing lingo was just metaphor, wait until you hear the opening of “Rat Rod,” the second track.
Actual rumbling hot rod engine sounds, courtesy of Ray Gosnell, vibrate the speakers for eight seconds before Davidson’s guitar lines serve as the shifter to engage the drive train. This smile inducing, fast tempo number is done Rockabilly style with some top string twang and plenty of thumping bass and rhythm.
Their cover of Jimmy Reed’s mid-tempo shuffle “High & Lonesome” brings the first taste of Blues and the addition of Ray Fuller on warbling harmonica. Davidson demonstrates his complete familiarity with the fret board throughout and on a tasty mid song guitar solo.
According to Davidson in the liner notes, “World’s Last GTO” was inspired by Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Pontiac Blues” and Ronnie and the Daytona’s “Little GTO.” Davidson sings, “...we’re cruisin’ in the world’s last GTO...it’s bad on gas, but it sure is fast....” You just don’t hear those fun kind of songs anymore written for fans of friends, fast cars, cold beer, and cruising road trips.
“Quittin’ Time” is an absolute slide guitar stomp replete with a lyrical list of things in the narrator’s life, like smoking, than need to be quit. The mood of the song, however, is not one of surrender, and at the end, he says, “Anybody got a light?”
The most unique, surprising, and pleasing song of the set is an acoustic instrumental, titled “Three Angels,” dedicated to the memory of three women listed in the liner notes. Davidson makes the strings sing and soar with his slide on what sounds like a National steel bodied guitar. Some side-tracked mandolin adds interesting harmony.
“Black Cat Boogie” gives a nod to John Lee Hooker in a mid-tempo number lush with layers, while “Little Abigail” throws back to good ole 1960s Rock and Roll.
Davidson chose a very appropriate set closer in “High Test Love.” It is a Rocking number full of lyrical car racing metaphors (starting with the title) that really burns up the strip. Matt Stuber throws down a saxophone solo at mid song that fits perfectly in the “no traction; no action” theme.
While this Rocking and rousing set is obviously perfect for motor-heads and gear-jammers, I can not imagine any baby-boomer not enjoying these songs and sounds. It hearkens me back to the days of underage, illicit beers, back seat necking, clandestine drag racing, and Sunday afternoons helping your buddies tune those V-8 engines and getting your fingers all covered with “erl” (oil).
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Thursdays from 7 - 8 pm and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL
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