Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

TOMMY CASTRO & THE PAINKILLERS

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

2014-01-12

In 2012 Tommy Castro retired his long time horn-driven soul blues line up and hit the road with the Painkillers, a stripped down three piece drum, bass and keyboard crew including Randy McDonald who held down the bass guitar slot in the original 1991 version of the Tommy Castro Band. This disc features the harder edged sound of the new line up. While Castro's voice still has a soulful edge, it is employed in the service of tunes that are a lot closer to Texas or Chicago than Memphis or Muscle Shoals as has been the case with most of his discs. "I'm Tired" sets the stage with Castro's proclamation that he's tired of trying to be something not true to himself or to live up to someone else's expectations. So, out with the old, in with the new. The title cut and "She Wanted To Give It To Me" are grinding blues rockers while the riff heavy "When I Cross The Mississippi" pays lyrical homage to southern blues but musical tribute to jam band specialists such as the North Mississippi All-Stars compliments of the guitar fireworks laid down by Castro and guests Tab Benoit and Mark Karan. "Medicine Woman" is just as riff heavy but with equally hard vocals by Castro and Samantha Fish. Although the overall edge is harder, Castro has not transformed himself into a mere three chord hard rocker as evidenced by the rollicking duets with pianist Marcia Ball on "Mojo Hannah" and vocalist Tasha Taylor on J. B Lenoir's "The Whale Have Swallowed Me" as well as the funky cover of the Wet Willie Classic, "Keep On Smilin'". "Two Steps Forward" starts as a crunchy Zeppelin style rocker before The Holmes Brothers step in on gospel vocals and Magic Dick lays down harmonica straight from his J. Geils Band days. The two cuts that the band released as a 45, "That's All I Go"t and "Greedy" close out the disc with a good summary of the Painkiller sound- nail hard blues rock with Castro's solid, soulful vocals adding the special ingredient that separates these tunes from the countless other bands that make a living at the glorious intersection between rock and blues. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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