Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Barrelhouse Chuck - Got My Eyes on You (The Sirens, 2006)

Blues keyboardist Barrelhouse Chuck learned at the feet of two of the greatest blues pianists, Sunnyland Slim and Little Brother Montgomery, and he carries their torch well on this latest foray into no-nonsense blues. Chuck is joined on this recording by a hot backing band, drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones on bass; and guitarists Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor Jr. Kim Wilson adds harmonica on a few tracks as well. The setlist is made primarily of cover tunes, but they are rich in tradition and never sound tired. Chuck bangs out "Call My Job" with a nod and a wink, while the title song is put forth with just the right amount of strut and braggadocio. Eddie Taylor steps up on vocals and guitar on Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth", which is the highlight of the album. It's darkness and moodiness clashes with the playful nature of the remainder of the music but the band nails the vibe with a really powerful performance. A couple of instrumentals show off the band's versatility, "Red River Rumba" and "The Bright Sounds of Big Moose" (where Chuck slips in a little organ) are well played and enhance the variety of music available here. Fans of old-school Chicago blues will find much to enjoy here. The group definitely prefers substance over flash, digging deep into the tunes with respect to the blues tradition, but not at the expense of having a good time. Piano led blues are rare these days, so this well played disc is one to savor.

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