To understand The Magic Lightnin' Boys and their music, you have to understand blues music. Real blues. Southern American blues. Willie Dixon. Muddy Waters. Robert Johnson. Mississippi John Hurt. I'm not dropping names from a Google search or Wikipedia entry. I've had albums by these men and others over the years. Real American blues is at the foundation of almost all rock music. Just ask Keith Richards.
With their self-titled debut, The Magic Lightnin' Boys, from Ohio, harvest the sounds of American blues history, and they're a bunch of white guys. The late B.B. King once said, "I've said that playing the blues is like having to be black twice. Stevie Ray Vaughan missed on both counts, but I never noticed." (I did get that one from a Google search. Sorry).
The strength of The Magic Lightnin' Boys is self-evident and simple. First, there's the voice of Casey Gomez, easily one of the best contemporary blues vocalists. He's got that soulful, bit gritty, somewhat whiskey soaked, delivery which carries through every song. Then, secondly, MLB knows their craft, their chosen genre. They simply mix a bit of classic rock into their blues. But mostly, they go for that deliberate slow and sweet as molassas blues groove, and then flair it with Gomez's vocal stylings and Brian Tarter's blues guitar intonations. Even better, within Devil's Lettuce they pair play off one another like tag team wrestlers. Along the way they may through in some blues harp as well. Underneath drums and bass keep a steady beat and groove. And thanks to the minimal and clear production, you catch the sweetness of Richie Lee's rhythmic bass lines.
A few songs need some mention. There's a bit of blues funk in Mindfunk, where MLB may be stealing some pages from early Little Feat. Another is Couple Skate, a ballad, better a love song, in the key of blues, maybe with a touch of country and a strong pinch of classic Seventies rock. And that guitar solo is so smooth. Finally, there's the closing instrumental Stones Throw, where Tarter gets to stretch his blues guitar licks.
Again, this is real American blues rock. And, unfortunately, in the larger context of American popular music, it's going fall on deaf ears. It's going to tread the underground music scene. The same place that much of classic hard rock and heavy metal have to struggle to survive. But if you dig the blues, real blues, twisted with classic rock, then The Magic Lightnin' Boys are the real deal, and definitely worth your time. Recommended.
If you dig the blues, real blues, twisted with classic rock, then The Magic Lightnin' Boys are the real deal, and definitely worth your time. Recommended.
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