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Wildcat O'Halloran - Cougar Bait Blues

Dove's Nest Records

12 tracks

OK, call me a sucker for loving bands with a swinging sound and a horn section. I had no idea who Wildcat O'Halloran was before getting this CD. He looks like a blend of Cheers' Cliff Clavin and Star Trek's Scotty with a droll sense of humor added on to boot, but he is a fine guitar player, singer, songwriter and leader of a big old band!

The CD opens with a rockabilly ditty with tackily fun lyrics. "Too Big to Cry, So I Might As Well Laugh." My favorite line is, "A whole generation growin' up to be fools, Start savin' money for bail instead of for school." Classic stuff with a bopping and rocking beat! It has to be my favorite song on the CD, but that does not mean the rest is not a fun listen. He follows with "Bottled Bravery and Canned Courage," what made him a hit with the girls and made him a man of the world. There is a trumpet solo early and a sax solo later that are both super. "If You Don't Do What I Want" gets "the delicious and nutritious Emmalyn Hicks" into the lead vocals, and then she and Wildcat get into a humorous contest of slamming each other back and forth. Once you accept their shtick, this is a great song and CD in general.

"All Your Fault" is a fun Magic Sam Cover, one of four covers on the album. "Hold On, I'm Comin'" gets greased up for this version of the cut, and Ottomatic Slim on harp does an excellent job here. "Better Luck Next Time" gets a jumpy and swinging play, and for Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen" Wildcat goes solo acoustic guitar and slows the tempo way down. The vocal duet and guitar picking are very well done for this nicely covered classic.

"Xmas Divorce" is another of Wildcat's somewhat cheesy humor songs, but he pulls it off as he struts through this music. "Cougar Bait Blues" also has more of his tongue in cheek lyrics, but the band and he really sell it. Wildcat wants to find a "Redneck Women" and put her through the blues; his guitar work here is featured and the harp and groove maintain the tone throughout. Another great harp solo is included here. My expectations for "Daisy Dukes" may have been low, but it is a tribute to the appearance of the UMass women and their preferred style of shorts. A really tight trombone solo is one of the song's highlights. O'Halloran concludes with "I Worship the Ground She Walks All Over On," more of his country fried humor. He even adds a funny aside where she'd be a keeper rooting for Johnny Damon or Rex Ryan, but Arod would be a deal breaker.

Lots of country inspiration interspersed with Wildcat's swinging blues makes for a fun CD. Yes, the songs are most often over the top tongue in cheek humor, but he sells it and I would imagine this stuff is even more fun live. If you like someone who takes his lyrics less seriously than most but still delivers a high powered sound, Wildcat O'Halloran is for you. He lists a full dozen band members in addition to himself- the horns and brass are superb, the harp is outstanding and the guitar work of he and Devin Griffiths is always well done. This one is well worth checking out!!!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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