Groovin’ In Greaseland
Here’s one of those albums – that will please existing fans of this band/sound/genre and is also the perfect business card, the perfect entry point – if you’ve heard of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats but didn’t know where to start, or if you’re worried there aren’t any great blues albums anymore then look no further. Listen closely here. You’ll hear kicking instrumental workouts, deep satires, political and social commentary – there’s humour and heart and soul here. The passion is palpable right from the opening statement, The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere.
Rick Estrin’s in great voice, naturally. And his harmonica work is sublime. But wunderkind guitarist Kid Anderson is the star several times over on this album too – you’ll hear him go all Lonnie Mack on the instrumental tribute MWAH! But you’ll also hear stinging solos on Looking For A Woman and the Peter Green-aping ballad, Tender Hearted.
Dissed Again tells the “story of my life” working-man blues song inside a great early rock’n’roll feel. (“I drive across the country in a beat-up van/Tryin’ to make a living, got to pay the band./Get back in time to hear the boss man say, you to open for a 10 year old,/Sounds just like Stevie Ray”). And if that’s sarcastic – if knowing – then it all comes home on the sharper social commentary of Living Hand to Mouth.
Throughout the misery there’s a warmth to this music. It shines. Cooked up in the Greaseland kitchen – Kid Anderson’s famous studio – this album feels the right shade of lived in and the mix of funky instrumentals (Cool Slaw), ballads (Another Lonesome Day) and uptempo rockers and boogie workouts (Hot In Here) ensures for a fine flow.
The blues is a dirty word these days. It’s a dirty game. This restores faith, integrity. The playing is shit-hot, the songs are sharp, there’s nods to tradition and there’s something new going on. Well, not new as such – it’s all been done before – but the ‘newness’ here is the energy, groove and soul on show – the right mix of playing seriously well without taking it all too seriously.
I want to say this is the best blues album I’ve heard in a while – but it’s also (and actually) just one of the better albums I’ve heard in a while. Delicious playing, great sound, strong songs.
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