Sunday, September 27, 2009

Little CHARLIE & The Nightcats - Shadow of the Blues 1998

Little CHARLIE & The Nightcats - Shadow of the Blues 1998
Label: Alligator


When it comes to jump blues, few contemporary outfits can match Little Charlie & the Nightcats. This is their eighth album for Alligator, with more of the lean, sparsely arranged, mostly original tunes that are the band's stock in trade. Lead singer/harpman Rick Estrin, who wrote most of the material, produces songs laced with wry wit. On top of that, he is one of the best blues harp players around. Estrin plays flawless chromatic and he can do Sonny Boy Williamson- style harmonica almost as well as the master himself. Guitarist Little Charlie Baty manages to blend the best of T Bone Walker and Charlie Christian with hot, modern-style phrasing. Choice selections include the title cut, the tongue-in-cheek "Big and Fat," and Charlie's tour de force, "Percolatin'."
By Lars Gandil.
Little Charlie & the Nightcats' seventh album for Alligator found the group at the top of its game, sharp songwriting combining with the expert playing of a group that has spent years on the road honing its craft. Rick Estrin's sleazy used-car-salesman-as-blues-singer persona comes shining through on his originals "Never Trust a Woman," "New Old Lady," and "Big and Fat," while Charlie Baty's guitar mastery is brought to the fore on the dazzling instrumental "Percolatin'." The title track is a great minor-key slow late-night piece, full of atmosphere and sporting great chromatic harp work from Estrin and a jazzy break from Baty. Down-home award-winner goes to the only cover on board, Arthur "Big Boy" Spires' "Murmur Low," which also features Estrin in the rare role of second guitarist. As always, the rhythm section of Ronnie James Weber on bass and June Core on drums provides swinging support throughout, and the addition on certain tracks of Jimmy Pugh on piano and organ is most welcome. The result is another solid album of modern-day blues served up by one of the genre's best working bands.
By Cub Koda.
A fantastic release from the modern masters of jump blues! I, like the other reviewers, am quite pleased with this CD. I agree with everything else that has been written about it, but I would like to mention a couple of high points for me. My two favorite tunes are New Old Lady, and Big And Fat. Is it just me, or is Big And Fat a tribute to Muddy's "I'm Ready"? Who knows? I love the lyrics on New Old Lady: "I got a new old lady, so doggone good to me....makes my old, old lady nothin' but ancient history." Also, on Big And Fat, at the end when it is starting to fade out, Rick says "wall to wall". That is just so cool! I love these guys. If Little Charlie or Rick Estrin or Ronnie or June, ever read this: Thanks for all the great music you have given the world. My life is better because of what you are doing!
By Chris Winter.
Little Charlie Baty- Guitar
June Core- Percussion, Drums, Maracas
Rick Estrin- Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Jimmy Pugh- Organ, Piano
Ronnie James Weber- Bass
01. Never Trust a Woman (Alvin, Estrin) 5:07
02. New Old Lady (Estrin) 3:48
03. When Your Woman Is Gone (Alvin, Estrin) 5:49
04. You Got Your Hooks in Me (Estrin) 3:11
05. Big and Fat (Estrin) 4:13
06. You Don't Love Me That Way (Williamson) 3:20
07. Walkin' in the Shadow of the Blues (Estrin) 5:42
08. Got It Good (Esrtin) 3:19
09. Dirty Dealin' Mama (Alperin, Oscher) 4:23
10. Percolatin' (Baty) 4:18
11. I Don't Drink Much (Estrin, Weber) 4:46
12. Murmur Low (Spires) 3:16
13. You Got to Rock (Estrin) 4:22

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