Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Is Your Lucky Number

13 Featuring Lester Butler

Review by Cub Koda

From the opening harp honk of "So Low Down," and one is immediately struck by the fact that this is one dirty-sounding, forward-looking blues album, entering into territories usually unexplored by the pleated pants and berets hardliners intent on regurgitating their own record collections. There is not one slickly played, sung, or produced note to be found anywhere on this disc, making it stand out from the rest of the pack right from the beginning. Harmonica man/vocalist Lester Butler's songwriting pen comes up with nine of the 13 tracks on this disc, and all of them are every bit as finely wrought as the classics covered elsewhere on the album. With burning, solid guitar work from Alex Shultz, Paul Bryant, and someone named Smokey Hormel, a trio of revolving bassists and a pair of revolving drummers (Tom Levy, James Moore, and James Intveld doing the plunking with Steven Hodges and Johnny Morgan doing the skin-beating) and Andy Kaulkin on piano, this is one lowdown, lo-fi sounding ("grungy" would not be too descriptive a phrase here) album that immediately sucks you in with its sheer honesty alone. Even hackneyed titles like Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning," Elmore James' "So Mean To Me," and Doctor Ross' "The Boogie Disease" sound reasonably fresh here, no mean accomplishment for anybody. Although Butler overdubs his vocals on this session, thus utilizing his harp lines as a member of the band rather than the traditional vocal-harp fill-vocal method used in a true "live" recording, things sound so alarmingly natural, it's a very minor, niggling point at best. Is this the greatest White juke joint record ever made? Belly up to the bar, turn up the volume and you'll sure find out; it's a hard one to ignore.


1 So Low Down
3 Sweet Tooth
4 Black Hearted Woman 
5 Close to You 
6 Smokestack Lightning 
7 Pray for Me 
8 So Mean to Me 
9 Way Down South 
10 Boogie Disease
11 Plague of Madness 
12 Down in the Alley 
13 Baby Please Don't Go 

Get it HERE