Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet




Tommy Castro and the Painkillers (Randy McDonald on Bass, Bowen Brown on Drums and Mike Emerson on Keyboards) are a well-oiled blues machine. Recorded at a number of venues in 2018, this disc captures the crew in its live glory and features 10 tracks from throughout Castro’s long career. As always, Castro’s searing guitar is front and center with deft solos bracketing his soulful vocals. Fittingly, the disc starts with Castro announcing “Party time. It’s Saturday night everybody” as the band kicks into "Make It Back to Memphis" where he waxes nostalgic regarding how important the city is to him, particularly when he’s misjudged his cash burn at the nearby Mississippi casinos. The fireworks come early and often with "Can’t Keep a Good Man Down" and" Calling San Francisco" featuring the most abundant flashy riffs. The cover of Sleepy John Estes’ "Leaving Trunk" also has plenty of guitar but turns up the funk quotient with the rhythm section laying down a solid groove."Lose Los"e finds Castro and crew channeling Buddy Guy with pleading vocals that drop to nearly a whisper and a sinewy guitar solo skimming just above the surface of Emerson’s tinkling piano. "Shakin’ The Hard Times Loose" is more rock than blues while "Anytime Soon" finds the band easing off on the accelerator for a mid-tempo ballad that showcases Castro’s heartfelt vocals. While many blues tunes find a man on the prowl, Castro finds himself as the prey on "She Wanted To Give It To Me", a tune fueled by Emerson’s greasy organ groove. Does he succumb to the temptation? You’ll have to listen to determine if the man doth protest too much! The party wraps up with a cover of Buddy Mile’s "Them Changes" which showcases brief solos from each of the band members and, like the crowd in attendance at the gig, leaves you shouting for more. Smitty

review by Mark

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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.