On Holler and Stomp,The Cash Box Kings continue to play their vibrant, exciting brand of classic Chicago blues. I knew I could expect a solid, enjoyable performance before listening to the album. I was nonetheless surprised at the degree of originality that the group could bring to the blues. Though dedicated to the many styles of the old school blues of the 1940s and 1950s, this is no retro group. The talented harp player, bandleader and vocalist Joe Nosek writes in the liner notes that their goal was to add touches of classic country music to their blues for this album. This element is present, especially on their covers of Hank Williams’ “Blues Come Around,” the title tune and their acoustic original “Hayseed Strut.” Nonetheless, this is still a solid blues album. Besides Nosek, the excellent line-up includes Chicago blues mainstay and band regular Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums, the versatile Joel Paterson on guitar, Jimmy Sutton on bass and Oscar Wilson on vocals, although frequently augmented by guitarist Billy Flynn and pianist Barrelhouse Chuck. My favorite tunes include their covers of Muddy Waters’ “Feel Like Going Home,” Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Katie Mae,” and the original, “That’s My Gal,” all of which include Oscar Wilson and prominently feature Paterson’s fluid guitar. “That’s My Gal” is a swampy style Blues that recalls Slim Harpo and Creedence Clearwater Revival, while “Katie Mae,” is a sparse, lonely atmospheric duo of Wilson’s vocals and Paterson’s guitar. The group also turns in a cover of The Rolling Stones’ 1964 blues tune, “Off the Hook.” The presence of Oscar Wilson is particularly a treat. He is a master vocalist in the tradition of Joe Williams and Barkin’ Bill Smith, capable of combining sophisticated, jazzy blues with the gritty, Chicago blues that is the Kings’ main fare. Many other band influences are present on this album, including Eddie Taylor “Barnyard Pimp, Fraulein on Paulina”, Earl Hooker “Sara” and Jimmy Dawkins “Tribute to the Black Lone Ranger”. Holler and Stomp is an exciting blues album, full of good songs and musicianship. I hope that the Nosek, Paterson, Flynn, Wilson and Smith line-up of The Cash Box Kings remains intact and continues to push the boundaries of classic blues.
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