By Aaron Porter
The most notable thing about Black Toppin’ is the Cash Box Kings sound: classic, but never tired. Led by two of the most talented men in the business today, Joe Nosek and Joel Paterson, the Cash Box Kings latest release aims to please and does not disappoint. Blues Falling Down On Me starts off the album in rugged tones, typical of the live shows, which the CBK are known. Any band that can have such a gritty sound while still sounding so polished is pulling off an amazing feat. The title track of the album is ridiculously catchy – I would dare you to play it and see if you don’t find yourself singing it sometime later that day.
While I’ve never thought Oscar Wilson was a necessary addition to the CBK roster, with Black Toppin’ it finally feels like he is starting to find his sound. He does very well on the title track, and on the iconic Little Walter song Too Late, but still falls just short of the true voices of the juke joint legends. With time, I believe Oscar will become a very powerful member of the CBK.
As with most of the CBK albums, a good number of the tracks are originals, but they also shake it up with a cover of “Run Run Run” by the Velvet Underground. The amazing part about that is that it comes across completely CBK. They give it a John Lee Hooker vibe, and if you didn’t know the song already, it would be easy to think it was an obscure blues tune by a forgotten Chicago band rather than the composition of an experimental rock group famous for collaborating with Andy Warhol. It is a nearly flawless crossover.
Admittedly, working at Buddy Guy’s Legends I have become very fond of certain band and artists. For a while I felt like it biased my opinions, but now I think it just informs them. Truth be told, good music is good music, and the CBK are good music. They bring an amazing show every time and are without a doubt in my top 5 Chicago blues ensembles. A great first release always leaves you worried that the sophomore album won’t be as good, and after their previous album Holler and Stomp (which was amazing) I worried that the follow up would fall short. But Black Toppin’ should absolutely be a part of your collection, along with all of the other CBK albums.