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Album Review

THE BLUESMASTERS
featuring Mickey Thomas

Ah, yes. Mickey Thomas continues his ride. The golden throated boy who sang his way into the Top Ten when he was with Elvin Bishop (Fooled Around and Fell In Love charted at #3 on the Billboard charts in 1976) and continued his run with Jefferson Starship (Jane hit #14 in 1979) is back and as strong as ever. Rumor has it that Thomas went into the studio and recorded the songs on The Bluesmasters featuring Mickey Thomas in one take, including a note for note remake of Fooled Around and Fell In Love and if it's true, yeah, he's back. Thing is, he may never have been gone. With the music business in disarray like it is and the media obsessing over the Ga-Ga's and the JZ-This's and the MC-That's, he may have just been drowned out by the drone of popular mediocrity. Well, no more. He's with The Bluesmasters and they play the blues and the blues ain't going nowhere, man.

Blues, indeed. Don't be expecting arena rock when you plug this in. They let you know right off, chuggin' into a chunky version of Pete Johnson and Joe Turner's blues classic Cherry Red and following it up with a little Muddy Waters (Rock Me Baby) and it goes uphill from there. Fooled Around comes next and then Dave Bartholomew and Chris Kenner's Sick and Tired and, well, you can see where we're going. They slide from track to track on the blues train, rockin' the blues like they did during the heyday of The Fillmore and The Avalon. E-e-e-lek-trick!

They bring ringer Magic Slim in to beef up Get Your Business Straight and Can't Get No Grindin' and Stephanie Calvert and Darlene Gardner to handle background vocals (what is rockin' blues without the occasional voice of the female persuasion, after all) and all is right with the world.

Capping it all of with a Tim Tucker original (he's the guitar player) is a nice touch and while I like the blues, I would have liked a couple more originals, but what the hell. First time around, you sometimes go with the tried and true just to catch an extra ear or two and these tracks should do just that. Didn't hurt that they laid down the tracks at the Tone Factory in Vegas and The Ranch in Broomfield, Colorado. Word has it that they are first class facilities and even if they aren't, the sound came out smoooth.

True, this is blues, but even if you aren't a blues fan this might well do the trick. It took me a few years to handle the raw edge of the Chicago Blues and I never gained an appreciation for Delta Blues. No, for me, it was rockin' blues--- The Blues for White Boys 101. Ten Years After, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, early Fleetwood Mac, that kind of blues. They dragged me, kicking and screaming, to Chicago and beyond. This ain't raw. It's rawk (well, rawkin' blues). If you never thought you could like the blues, you might be wrong. And expanding your horizons, that's a good thing, right? Well, if you have an inkling in that direction, this is as good a place to start as any.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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