Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

TOMMY CASTRO AND THE PAINKILLERS

STOMPIN' GROUND

2017-10-10

While Tommy Castro is now 15 discs into his recording career, he refuses to rest on formula and this new release finds him continuing to expand his sonic palette with ample doses of rock and soul joining his well-honed blues. Notably, Castro and crew also move beyond their party-hearty anthems and delve into weightier issues such as economic inequality and social injustice. Featuring the core Painkiller band (Randy McDonald-bass and background vocals, Bowen Brown- drums and tambourine and Michael Emerson- Keyboards) and a host of guests including a horn section and such “A” listers as David Hidalgo, Charlie Musslewhite, Danielle Nicole, Mike Zito, Kid Andersen, Lisa Leuschner Andersen and Nancy Wright, Castro has all the firepower he needs to pull the full potential out of the seven self-penned tracks and five covers. The originals find Castro alternately waxing nostalgic for days past and then railing against current headlines. "Fear is the Enemy" is a soulful blues rocker that challenges the listener to look beyond differences to find common ground while "My Old Neighborhood" finds him reminiscing about simpler times when he knew exactly where he stood." Enough is Enough" finds Castro jumping into political territory with a funky shuffle and a take no prisoners attitude against how he’s going to handle those who push things too far at the expense of the common man- it’s revolution time baby! Love Is extols the virtue of love as the antidote to intolerance and other lapses in civility with the loose-limbed bass groove and stinging guitar aimed at your feet allowing the track to avoid being preachy." Live Every Day" finds Castro and Charlie Musselwhite promoting the virtues of living for today instead of tomorrow, which, in these days, may never come. The second half of the disc features Castro rooted firmly in the past with the covers he treasured over the years including Elvin Bishop’s "Rock Bottom" which features a hot guitar duel with Mike Zito, Delaney & Bonnie’s "Soul Shake" featuring Danielle Nicole’s scorching vocals, Taj Mahal’s rootsy "Further On Down the Road", Buddy Miles’ blues rock scorcher, "Them Changes" and Ray Charles’ rollicking "Sticks and Stones". By refusing to stick to straight blues and formulaic bad luck, bad women and bad whisky lyrics, Castro is clearly on to something as he continues his prolific career. Top notch from beginning to end. Smitty

review by Mark

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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