Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review "Double Dynamite" -The Mannish Boys

By Malcolm Kennedy
The Mannish Boys new Delta Groove release Double Dynamite is so named because it is a double helping of tough blues and impassioned R&B served up on two platters (2 CD set) filled with generous portions pf 13 selections each. The players, Finis, Randy, Kirk, Frank, Willie and Jimi (most of whom have their own bands and projects) plus the addition of new Mannish Boy vocalist Sugaray Rayford on nine cuts. With 26 selections the menu includes numerous sides like harp players James Harmon, Rod Piazza, Jason Ricci and Bob Corritore; guest vocalists Jackie Payne, Mud Morganfield and Cynthia Manley, guitarists a-plenty with Elvin, Junior, Nathan and the Kid not to mention piano, bass, horn players and various other supporting artists.

Now I have been shouting out for years about this All-Star band bringing their old school meets new school to the cover songs, frequently of under appreciated artists, digging deep into the blues and R&B songbooks for lesser known gems and shedding light on these artists in the process. They are blues miners and here they used Double Dynamite to bring you Atomic Blues and Rhythm & Blues Explosion. As with any Delta Groove release the production, packaging and musicianship are impeccable. Now you know I would just love to tell you something about all 26 cuts on this all you can listen to smorgasbord; but I wouldn’t want you to get stuffed. You might look at the track menu and think, “Mannish Boy,” how can they possibly pull off that signature Muddy Waters song? Well with Mud Morganfield on vocals of course.

Disc 1, Atomic Blues, opens with Son House’s “Death Letter” featuring Frank Goldwasser on bristling slide guitar and Rayford on ardent vocals backed by thundering rhythm breathing new life into this Delta blues crown jewel. The loping shuffle of Little Walter’s “Mean Old World” showcases Piazza’s skill and tone on blues harp with Finis Tasby on vocals, Kirk Fletcher and Frank on rhythm and Elvin Bishop on slide cutting a tasty solo. James Harmon brings the goods to his own “Bad Detective” with Kirk on slinky lead guitar and Rich Wenzel on the ivories flushing out the sound. The Mitch Kashmar/Randy Chortkoff penned “You Dogged Me” from Mitch’s Wake Up & Worry, sounds like a long lost Jimmy Reed tune and features Randy on high end 1st position harp and vocals, Kirk on lead, Frank on rhythm and 2nd position harp. Other selections include song by Robert Nighthawk, Muddy, Frank Frost, Sonny Boy Williamson, Randy, Willie Dixon and Otis Spann.

Disc 2, Rhythm & Blues Explosion, opens with the Albert King staple “Born Under A Bad Sign” featuring Elvin Bishop’s biting guitar, Finis Tasby’s soulful vocals and horns and organ adding punch. Cynthia Manley sings a duet with Rayford on the James Brown soul ballad “You’ve Got The Power.” Nathan James handles the tasteful lead guitar while Fred Kaplan, piano, and David “Woody” Woodford, sax, guide the song with the rhythm section. James Brown’s powerful “Cold Sweat” is rendered here as a percolating instrumental with Fletcher adding stinging lead notes, Goldwasser on rhythm, Bobby Tsukamoto on driving bass, Mike Finnigan master of keyboards on B-3, Woodford on tenor and baritone sax and Lee Thornburg on trumpet and trombone giving this track an almost Tower of Power sound. There are songs penned by James Cotton, James Harmon, Ray Charles, Jimmy McCracklin plus several more. Double Dynamite is double the pleasure and double the fun. Very highly recommended.

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