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Whiteboy James & The Blues Express - Extreme Makeover

Rip Cat Records

12 songs; 40:20 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Retro Electric Blues, Jazzy Blues, “Blues-a-billy,” “Drunk-a-billy,” “Jump and Jive”

Whiteboy James should be in jail! Especially, when one considers how anything really raucous and fun in our society is eventually declared by the government to be beyond immoral to completely illegal, then incarceration here is overdue.

Here is a list of Whiteboy James’s jail-able infractions:
1. He drinks cheap, $2.00/bottle “Night Train Wine” and carries the bottle around in his pants.
2. He scribbles! (Hell, he can “barely write [his] name”).
3. He likes “Big Butted Women.”
4. He will “Stay Out Late at Night” and then sleep all day.
5. His middle name is “Trouble.”
6. He “gold-bricks’ and even hangs out at the “Gold Brick Bar.”
7. He makes love to various women until “past 4 o’clock” in the morning.
8. He “‘likes’ drinkin’ whisky, vodka, scotch and gin.”
9. He fantasizes about murder of the deserving.
10. He provides alcohol to “Jungle natives.”
11. He “takes” women from other guys.

All the information contained in this indictment can be audibly deduced from the 10 original songs (plus two covers) which gloriously and wonderfully celebrate mischievous decadence and passion. This CD is my guilty pleasure for 2011.

As a record reviewer, I should strive for erudition, rewarding writers for cerebral lyrics that challenge thoughtful contemplation. Further, rewarding a touch of Blues purism would discourage any feelings but the deepest from the soul. Well, screw all that! Let’s pop in this CD, get drunk and have some irreverent fun. That is what this album is about. This is Whiteboy’s second release and is an updated version of the band’s self-titled debut from 1992.

To be clear, there is plenty of intelligence on display here. For all the rough-neck, feisty fun in the songs, the lyrics are anything but thoughtless or uninspired. As a struggling song writer myself, I am most amazed at James’s tune, “Excuse Me for Scribblin’ (I can barely write my name).” How did he come up with that one? There has to be a great story behind that song.

“Whiteboy” James Page is a West Coast Blues legend. The talented singer, songwriter, and wailing harmonica player is a survivor of the Southern California Blues explosion of the 1980s and 90s. Since reforming in 2006 after a five year absence, the band has re-established itself as the legendary band that they once were. The current Blues Express collaborators are: Scott Abeyta (guitar), Blake Watson (bass), and Max Bangwell (with the best name in the business for a drummer).

Musically, the entire CD is a relentless throw-down Blues party. James blows dance-a-billy harp and his big voice and shouts propel unadulterated raw feeling and ballsy wit. Abeyta on guitar displays imaginative skills and technical power, but his tasty single note runs never collapse into pedestrian power-chording. A huge part of the sound is the killer backing beats from Watson and Bangwell playing with confidence and verve.

Whiteboy James is my newest hero! I have fallen in love with this CD for all the wrong or right reasons – not sure which. All I know is, its upbeat songs kick ass mercilessly, it is fun, it is funny, and it is ultimately entertaining. Get this CD and a bottle of Night Train wine, and your night is set.

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 Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at  in Kankakee, IL. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.

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