Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

STUDEBAKER JOHN'S MAXWELL STREET KINGS

THAT'S THE WAY YOU DO

2011-03-25

This 15 cut disc of original tunes by Studebaker John Grimaldi finds him leaving his long time band the Hawks on the sidelines in favor of the lean line up of Rick Kreher on guitar and Steve Cushing on drums. Notice I said original tunes, not original music. And that’s a good thing. The music here is straight out of the glory days of Chicago’s open air Maxwell Street market where countless blues musicians such as Robert Nighthawk and Carey Bell paid the rent by throwing open their guitar case or laying down a hat for whatever cash their efforts merited from the shoppers on the prowl for the day’s deals. While the line up here is spare, the sound is full. Cushing lays down a rock solid foundation while John and Kreher trade stinging guitar riffs. Add John’s well-honed harmonica and nimble vocals (that uncannily mimic those of rocker John Hiatt) and you’ve got a serious jam going on. The disc starts on a strong note with John’s harmonica leading the charge through "That’s the Way You Do" where John’s woman is getting shown the door after drinking and carousing with everyone in town but him. The sinister slide guitar that propels "Side by Side" proves the perfect accomplice to someone already so far into the blues that he has nothing left to trade to the devil at the crossroads. As befitting its inspiration, "Headin’ Down to Maxwell Street" is a blues shuffle of the first order but the band shines even brighter on the instrumentals "B-Line" and "Taylor Street Boogie" and the scorching rocker, "So In Love With You", which could wind up on a George Thorogood disc with its over the top slide histrionics. Other highlights include the shuffle "Fine Cadillac" which combines some great slide with sly lyrics about a hot woman, the double entendre gem, "When Your Mule Won’t Ride" and the slow grinders "If You Would Love Me" and "Son of the Seventh Son" that showcase the ability of the crew to ride deep in the pocket using the minimum number of notes to make the maximum impact. For those that like their blues straight, no chaser, That’s the Way You Do hits all the right spots. SMITTY

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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