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The 44’s - Boogie Disease
Rip Cat Records / T’s Music Co
9 songs; 38:43 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Roots Music; Los Angeles Blues; Chicago Blues; Roots-Rock
True Blues fans love all kinds of Blues, but everyone has their favorite types and styles. For my “Friends of the Blues Radio Show” co-host Shuffle Shoes and I, The 44’s have nailed what we like the best with their debut CD, “Boogie Disease.”
In near ecstasy, Shuffle Shoes exclaimed after just one listen, “That CD has grit, gonads and little bit of nasty all rolled together! I guess that’s another way of saying ‘raw.’ It is nice to hear songs that a musically experienced adult can listen to. The 44’s have a sound as big as Kid Ramos’s guns [muscular arms]!”
The 44’s are a Los Angeles-based band which plays Roots music and hard-edged Blues. This harp-guitar-bass-drums quartet has become the hottest gig to catch for those in the know.
The band members include harmonica player Tex Nakamura (formerly of War), singer- guitarist Johnny Main, upright bassist Mike Turturro (formerly Lynwood Slim/Candye Kane), and drummer J.R. Lozano.
Reminiscent of the Red Devils, James Harman, and William Clarke, the band’s first CD has been produced by Kid Ramos who also plays so-clean guitar on four tracks. They first gained major attention on the Los Angeles blues scene in 2007 when they competed and finished fourth in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.
The intro and opening lyrics on the band-original, first track “Pull My Strings” might trick one into thinking it's a cover of “How Long Blues.” Lead vocalist and guitarist Johnny Main rasps, “How long, how long? Tell me how long!” However, this is only the hook. Once listeners bite it, they'll be hopelessly caught. Main's tinny, industrial-sounding lead guitar reverberates with an eerie echo, like it's being played inside of a metal chamber. Tex Nakamura's harmonica follows suit, hunting the melody down and then brazenly upstaging it. Both of these instruments will jolt one's consciousness like electric shocks! Running six minutes, there is plenty of solo room for Kid Ramos and Main on guitars plus Tex’s harp solos over the bedrock rhythm laid down by Turturro and Lozano.
The second track, “So Low Down” by the Red Devils’ Lester Butler is an early favorite for its hair raising, down beat rhythm. The music is a gut punch as Tex blows the hardest harp of the set, but the lyrics deliver the sledge hammer to the head. Mentioning heroin abuse, it’s not a pretty story, “My Baby’s so low down, she’s sleeping in the ground!”
The title track “Boogie Disease” is Boogie-Blues with a way upbeat tempo. It's a rip-roaring dance number with hilarious lyrics: “I had to boogie for the doctor; I had to boogie for the nurse. I had to boogie so long, they had to throw me in the hearse!” This is an earworm beyond belief, even though one will be hard-pressed to sing it out loud without chuckling. Be careful: the chorus of this “disease” is absolutely infectious!
One might expect a title “Automatic” from a band called “the 44's”! Nevertheless, this tangy tribute is paid to a woman with an automatic car, not an automatic weapon. Written by Delta boogie and Blues pianist Willie Love, it's as raunchy as Blues songs can get without containing any profanity, having the same effect on one's ears as a shot of whiskey has on one's throat! Everyone, including Kid Ramos, seems to be playing on overdrive, especially Tex Nakamura on 8-cylinder harp. Cue this track up when you're in a good mood, or even in a bad mood, but especially if you want to get “in the mood.”
For a set closer, how about Tex’s chromatic harmonica played in harmony with Main’s guitar! The Ramos instrumental “Johnny Cochino” features Kid Ramos’s stinging guitar arriving at 70 seconds into the song. His notes have the pierce of Albert Collins’s but the ferocity of hellfire. I don’t know who namesake Johnny Cochino is, but he must be one bad mother stabber.
If “grit, gonads and little bit of nasty all rolled together” is also your favorite style, you will love this album. Plus, having Kid Ramos both produce and play on the album seals the deal. Better order two for when you wear the first one out!
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 Fridays from 10 pm - Midnight and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. Amy Walker contributed to this review.
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