Monday, January 2, 2012

Review "The Wolfpack Burnham Sessions" - Tim Aves & Wolfpack (Square One Records)

By Eric Steiner
I am always eager to discover CDs that pay tribute to Chicago blues greats like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, or Elmore James. Motor City Josh’s 2008 tribute to Wolf, Forty Four, Paul Rodgers’ star-studded 1993 CD, Muddy Water Blues, and John Primer’s 2003 Blue Steel, offer outstanding re-interpretations of blues classics like “Forty Four,” “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” and “Fine Little Mama.”

I’ll add Tim Aves & Wolfpack’s 2011 sessions’ CD recorded at the Saint Studios in Burnham, England, to this list. Tim’s expert slide work on “300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy” sets the stage alongside Paul Lester’s drums, and Joel Fisk’s guitar on Robert Johnson’s “Kindhearted Woman” and on Aves’ “Robert Johnson’s Shoes” add nice acoustic touches to this otherwise plugged-in CD. When not bending notes with Tim and Co., “Jelly Roll” Joel plays with a well-respected British blues outfit named Hokie Joint. Not every blues vocalist can scale the heights Wolf climbed, but Tim capably throws his all into each song. Wolf had a powerful stage persona, and was a powerful singer; Aves’ vocals more than meet the challenge posed by the man born Chester Burnett.

Two songs not penned by Willie Dixon or Chester Burnett are keepers, too: Aves’ own “Robert Johnson’s Shoes” is a solid blues ballad, and Doyle Bramhall’s “Life by the Drop” is a fitting tribute to a Texas bluesman who died in November of 2011. The set’s closer, recorded live at Essex’ New Crawdaddy Club, is a delightful 13-minute mash-up of “Smokestack Lightning,” “Spoonful,” and “Commit a Crime.” If the Chicago Blues Festival needed a band to honor Howlin’ Wolf’s memory, I’d highly recommend Tim Aves & Wolfpack. They’ve captured the soul, the passion and artistry of Howlin’ Wolf.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a fantastic review. Me and the rest of the WOLFPACK guys are all deeply thrilled, Eric!