CD Review: Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue

TommyCastroBy Thaddeus Krolicki

Tommy Castro Presents the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue is a live document of performances from the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue’s performances.  San Francisco Blues, Rock and R&B guitarist Tommy Castro organized this tour, inspired by the rhythm and blues tours of the 1960s, in which many of the top acts would tour and perform together on the same bill. On this album, Castro performs four tunes with his own band and backs other contemporary artists including Michael Burks, Joe Louis Walker, Sister Monica Parker, Rick Estrin, Trampled Under Foot, Janiva Magness and Debbie Davies.  Although blues is certainly the underlying element of all of these performances, the tunes are heavy on the Soul, R&B and Rock element.  Castro’s songs/tracks include energetic R&B rockers “Wake-Up Call,” and “Pain Killer,” complete with a horn section and flashy guitar solos. He also does a rocked-up version of Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” that features an extended guitar solo.  The album concludes with his version of John Lee Hooker’s “It Serves Me Right to Suffer.”  He begins the tune slowly, in the style of Hooker’s original, but then quickly builds into a heavy boogie.  The horns and the organ build up, and at times, the tune is reminiscent of early Santana.  Other highlights include Michael Burk’s “Voodoo Spell.”  The first few minutes simply feature Burks singing and accompanying himself on guitar, playing in the style of Lightnin’ Hopkins.  Debbie Davies channels Otis Rush on the slow, minor blues “All I Found,” while harp player Rick Estrin channels Junior Wells on the funky blues, “My Next Ex-Wife.”  All together, this is a thoroughly enjoyable mix of Blues, R&B and Rock.

Translucent Blues is a collaboration between the Door’s legendary keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, and celebrated slide guitarist Roy Rogers, noted for his collaborations with John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt and Norton Buffalo.  This is a very clean, modern album that is not standard traditional blues.  It combines elements of Blues, Rock and Jazz with abstract, and often comedic lyrics.  “Hurricane” is a minor-keyed, reggae-inflected tune that has a heavy, ominous beat.  The most successful songs are “Kick,” “Greenhouse Blues,” and the instrumental tune, “As You Leave.”  They minor-keyed, Jazzy tunes that heavily feature tenor saxophonist George Brooks.  “Kick” even features vibes, furthering the connection to jazz.  Manzarek’s keyboards on the these tunes sometimes sound reminiscent of some of his work with The Doors.  The instrumental “An Organ, A Guitar and a Chick,” sounds like an modernized Soul Jazz piece in the style of Jimmy Smith, while “These Hits Just Keep on Coming,” is the most traditional Blues song, complete with Roger’s delta-inspired guitar riffs.  Manzarek and Rogers alternate vocals among the tunes.  This album is not for those seeking pure, traditional Blues.  However, it is recommended for those who want to hear a modern interpretation of Blues that ventures into other territories.


Mark Augustine

Mark Augustine

Mark Augustine is a faculty member at Columbia College Chicago and a staff writer at BG: Blues And Music News.

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