BB & The Blues Shacks: Businessmen (Crosscut Records)
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UK release date 20.08.2014
This German five piece's 12th album Ă˘€“ seventh for this label - and they have been doing their blues-soul thing now for 25 years. A very nice job it is too, on 15 originals, including one corking instrumental Ă˘€śBuckle Up.Ă˘€ť
Describing themselves as a Ă˘€śstraight blues band with some soul notes,Ă˘€ť BB & The Blues Shacks have clocked up an impressive 3,000+ live shows on international stages on all five continents, including big shows in L.A. and Australia, since they formed a quarter of a century ago.
Drummer Jochen Reich the newest recruit last year, and joins bassist Henning Hauerken, keyboard player Dennis Koeckstadt, guitarist Andreas Arlt and Michael Arlt on lead vocals and harmonica. The Arlt brothers wrote all but one song together on the album.
The No Show No Blow Horns add the icing to the cake on 13 of the 15 tracks here. They deserve name checks for their sizzling playing and tight arrangements; Tom Muller (saxes), Stefan Gossinger (trumpet), Martin Grunzweig (trombone.) Produced by the band and studio owner Andreas Wingert in Vienna, a safe set of hands for solid and unfussy production. A mix of groove-laden Chicago blues, horn-soaked Memphis Stax/Atlantic soul vibes.
A very accomplished bunch of players, a voice that is maybe not quite on the same level as the playing, but still holds the attention and does a very good job on some fine original material. Some of this stuff swings like a mother and you can hear the jazz influences seeping deep into the material and playing too.
I enjoyed what is an even listen, but Michael ArltĂ˘€™s harp blowinĂ˘€™ is right up there with the best of them. A real find on gob iron. There really are some super tasty licks on guitar - with early BB King and Freddie King shining through as influences perhaps, and a cache of very cool chops on Hammond organ and piano too.
Definitely worth a listen folks, and a band that UK blues festival bookers would do well to take a look at for next year.
Words SIMON REDLEY