Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

THE NIGHTHAWKS

ALL YOU GOTTA DO

2017-08-09

The East Coast based Nighthawks are a blues institution with recordings dating all the way back to 1974. This new release finds only harmonica ace Mark Wenner from the original line up but the present crew, Mark Stutso on drums, Johnny Castle on bass and Paul Bell on guitars has been around for years and has waxed some of the band’s best work including the award winning Last Train to Bluesville. While instrumental prowess has always been a given with the band, the fact that all four current members sing has enabled it to take on material that stretches beyond Wenner’s vocal range and style and, as a bonus, gives him more time to shine on harmonica. A case in point is Johnny Castle’s upbeat "Another Day" where he rails at the rich with Wenner’s hard charging harmonica adding to the rage. Elsewhere Mark Stutso gives soulful readings of Levon Helm’s swan song, "When I Go Away", his own weeper, "Three Times Your Fool" and then sheds the sorrow to rock out on the self-penned "VooDoo Doll". Guitarist Paul Bell adds plenty of tasty licks throughout along with solid harmony vocals. For his part, Wenner is at the top of his game with hard-hitting versions of the Muddy Water classic, "Baby, I Want to Be Loved", Sonny Boy Williamson’s "Ninety Nine", Jesse Winchester’s "Isn’t That So" and his own "Blues For Brother John". After all of these years it is hard to say which is better- his harmonica playing or his singing- both would earn him dinner at any blues club. The band’s four- part harmonies are on display throughout the disc, most notably on RL Burnside’s "Snake Drive". For those looking for a little break from all blues the band also adds a smoking cover of the bar band classic "Dirty Water". Fun times with the Nighthawks!

Smitty

review by Mark

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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