Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

THE NIGHTHAWKS

444

2014-07-30

Entering their fifth decade as a band the Nighthawks continue their multi-decade journey as a blues and roots rock institution. While the band has undergone numerous personnel changes over its many years it continues to feature original member Mark Wenner on vocals and harmonica along with long time members Paul Bell on guitars and vocals, Johnny Castle on bass and vocals and Mark Stutso (late of another original Nighthawk, Jimmy Thackery's band the Drivers) on drums and vocals. With top notch instrumental chops and four first rate vocalists on hand, the band can take on literally almost any type of material. On this set they get deep in the blues on Castle's original, "444 A.M.", which features heaping doses of Wenner's greasy harmonica chops, on Tracy Nelson's "Livin' the Blues" and on the Muddy Waters classic "Louisiana Blues" which gets a slow slinky acoustic treatment that makes it stand out from the countless hard electric covers it has received. Speaking of covers, a couple of Elvis classics, "Got A Lot of Livin'" and "Crawfish" make an appearance here with the former channeling the rockabilly groove of the original and the later the low down grease that found its way into his appearance in King Creole. The Everly Brothers also get a visit on a hard rocking but still faithful reworking of their bad relationship primer, "Price of Love". Drummer Mark Stutso lays down soulful vocals on "You're Gone" and on the straight out blues of "Nothin' But the Blues". Wenner steps back into the vocal spotlight on mid-tempo rocker "Honky Tonk Queen" and on the tough, gritty, "No Secrets" where he shares writing credits with the original 'Hawks line-up. Castle's prowess as a songwriter shines brightly on not only the title cut and the heartbreaking rumination about the deaths represented by each little "Roadside Cross" but also on the swampy "High Snakes" where Bell's guitar and Wenner's harmonica trade lonesome, plaintive whines behind Castle's haunting lyrics and vocals about the agony that sometime accompanies love. Still pushing themselves, the Nighthawks are just as fresh and enthusiastic as when they hit the scene all so many years ago. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.