Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys
ELMORE JAMES FOR PRESIDENT
Continental Record Services
A Trip Further Down the Dangerous Road Their Forefathers Ever Dared Travel.
This has been something of a conundrum; as I’ve played this more than any other album this year; mostly for fun too ….. but every time I’ve come to write up the review I’m stumped for what to actually say, for once.
Here goes ……..
The title track Elmore James For President kicks things off like a bottle fight on a Saturday afternoon at Craghead Vic.
Mastro on vocals that make the Wolf Man sound effeminate and blowing a wheezing harmonica, he sounds like he’s circling the front row, daring you not to have fun while his band are menacing onlookers behind him.
This the Blues boys and girls; but the kind your Mother didn’t want you listening to…..it’s scary.
I know nothing about this band; but hope against hope they wear dark suits, well worn white shirts, skinny ties and have slicked back hair, with at least two; Mastro included wearing Wayfarers; even at night; or at least leather jackets and Doc Martens.
Songs like Red Guitar, Rampart Street and The Bottle Won’t Save you are among the greasiest and nastiest music I’ve ever heard; and I’ve heard a lot ….. and when turned up to 10 in my Hyundai i20 makes it feel like a Camero fuelled on nitro!
You just know that any band who can sound this raw in the studio are really, really gonna rip it up on a Friday night somewhere sleazy and smoky when they light the blue touch paper that will lead into The Bottle Won’t Save You, Little Freddie is King and/or Wildman Call, then just as you think you’ve escaped a kicking, they come at you again with the slow, mean and dangerous Like Marie Laveau; One More Time and the nearest thing here to an actual love song; See Me In The Evening.
While Johnny Mastro and Mamma’s Boys can go further down the dangerous path that their forefathers ever dared travel; they can tease you with sweet, sweet riffs too; which is why Child Wolf has evolved into being my Favourite Track; taking a smidgen of Freddie King and adding it to a big portion of TS McPhee’s guitar gumbo then adding in some hot sauce from a sizzling bass/drum combo then at the last minute splashing on some hot sauce courtesy Mastro’s piquant harp playing and meaty singing style …… and no second helpings either.
OK, this may not be an earth shatteringly new combination; and thinking back it’s a road I first encountered in the company of Captain Beefheart and have visited various times over the years via Dr Feelgood, JD Wilkes and of course Howlin’ Wolf’s back catalogue …… but as God is my witness, Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys kick up a ruckus as well if not better than any or all of them!
This has gone straight into my Top Twenty Albums of the year file; and if I hear 20 better or more exciting albums this year I will be a happy; if surprised man.
Released February 26th 2021