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The Mannish Boys - Double Dynamite

Delta Groove Music, Inc.

Disc 1 – 13 tracks/59:58

Disc 2 – 13 tracks/55:23

Sometimes there really is truth in advertising – this release is a double dose of awesome house-rocking blues by an extensive cast of some of the best blues musicians on the West Coast. Thankfully, the liner notes include a track-by-track breakdown for the thirty-plus musicians & singers who participated, so that you can keep the players straight. With so many outstanding performances, you will be glad that you can quickly determine who deserves credit.

The first disc, titled Atomic Blues, gets off to a strong start with the introduction of the newest member of the band, singer Sugaray Rayford. He wraps his rich, gospel-trained voice around the Son House classic “Death Letter”, as Frank Goldwasser's slide guitar rages behind him. On “Bricks in My Pillow”, Rayford shows he can handle a straight-ahead blues number before he unleashes his powerful voice on “Please Forgive Me”. Kirk Fletcher makes his presence known on lead guitar while label owner Randy Chortkoff blows some harp on his original tune. Another highlight occurs when Rayford gets deep into Otis Spann's “The Hard Way, with Rob Rio ably filling the chair at the piano.

Other highlights include veteran Finis Tasby's downcast vocal on “Mean Old World” with Rob Piazza on harp and Elvin Bishop guesting on slide guitar while his languid style is a perfect fit on another Little Walter tune, “Everybody Needs Somebody”, this time with Jason Ricci adding some dazzling harp licks.

Singer Jackie Payne's lays down a spellbinding performance on “She's Nineteen Years Old/Streamline Woman”, a medley of Muddy Waters tunes with Piazza and Goldwasser distinguishing themselves one more time. Muddy's son, Mud Morganfield, offers up two more examples of his ability to channel his father's vocal style on “Elevate Me Mama” and “Mannish Boy” with Bob Corritore taking over the harp chores. The final member of the harp crew, James Harman, makes a lone appearance on his “Bad Detective”, with vigorous work from Fletcher. Goldwasser takes over the microphone on “Bloody Tears” and rips through the tune with some nasty slide playing. Label owner Chortkoff displays his understanding of the Jimmy Reed style on “You Dogged Me”.

Fletcher, Goldwasser and the other regular members of the band – Willie J. Campbell on bass and Jimi Bott on drums – are back on the second disc, entitled Rhythm & Blues Explosion. Additional musicians include Bill Stuve on bass on five tracks and a horn section of David “Woody” Woodford on saxophone plus Lee Thornburg on trumpet.

Rayford continues his impressive streak, jumping the blues on “That Dood It”, engaging in a delicious duet with Cynthia Manley on James Brown's “You've Got the Power” and getting soulfully funky on “Drowning on Dry Land” with horns and Mike Finnigan on the Hammond B-3 organ filling out the arrangement. On “Why Does Everything Happen to Me”, Rayford serves up a devastating chronicle of life's woes with Kid Ramos adding his usual incendiary fretwork. Saving the best for last, his hypnotic voice rides Fred Kaplan's rich organ chords on James Cotton's 'West Helena Blues”.

Elvin Bishop rips off a fiery solo on “Born Under a Bad Sign” to support Tasby, who sounds half his age on “Later On” - Nathan James on guitar - and then takes things uptown on the horn-driven late-night blues “You Don't Love Me”, with Kid Ramos fashioning another memorable solo.. Both tracks feature His finest moment arrives on “I Woke Up Screaming”, expressing his inconsolable emotions that are echoed by taut string-bending from Junior Watson. Stuve's walking bass line propels Ray Charles “Mr. Charles Blues” with Finnigan impressing with a lusty vocal and mellow piano. Jackie Payne reveals his tortured soul as Jason Ricci tries to blow their blues away on “Bed For My Soul”. The instrumental rendition of “Cold Sweat” is a showcase for Kirk Fletcher and his guitar.

Other than refraining from using some of the well-worn blues songs, there isn't much that could be done to improve this collection. It sounds like the sessions were a big party. Everyone sounds inspired and the instrumental work is top-notch. This may be the crowning achievement for the Mannish Boys and is certainly is one of the best blues recordings that you will hear this year. Highly recommended!!

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.

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