Hitman Blues Band
Not My Circus, Not My Monkey
Nerus Records/Self Release
A Righteous, Cosmopolitan and Shiny R&B Blast From Start to Finish.
Regular readers know our Modus Operandi by now; which is that I select albums in the way we used to flicking through the racks in a record store looking for inspiration; and when something captures our attention we ‘buy it’ then take it home and sit around our ‘metaphorical’ bedroom with friends, listening and talking about what’s on offer.
In this case, the album title NOT MY CIRCUS, NOT MY MONKEY just happens to be my current catchphrase after hearing Son #2 use it at Christmas!
So far; so good ….. but what about the music?
The titular opening track NOT MY CIRCUS (NOT MY MONKEY) lives right up to any pre-conceived ideas I may have had. A sordid tale of falling for the wrong woman in the wrong bar on the wrong side of town ……. this is what the Blues does better than any other genre.
Hitman Blues Band are a Classy R&B combo that can not just write but perform a blistering Bluesy song that not just makes you want to dance, but actually listen and consider the lyrics and story; via Russell ‘Hitman’ Alexander; who should know what he’s doing after 5 previous albums in this guise and several previous decades in a variety of other beat combos.
That one song along; with it’s searing guitar solos, funky brass section and glorious harmonies from the fabulous female backing singers ……. is worth the entrance fee alone.
Hitman goes all Rufus Thomas funky on track #2; Buy That Man a Drink; and if you ain’t dancing by now …….. you’re listening to the wrong record!
Just because a band is six albums into their career it doesn’t mean that they can always keep your attention; but The Hitman Blues Band certainly can; not just Alexander sounding like he’s having the time of his life poring out You Can’t Say No and/or the beautiful ballad Everybody But Me; but the band themselves are as tight as the proverbial drum; subtle as can be on You Don’t Understand and No Place Like Home; allowing Alexander to shine in a way; only pure professionals who ‘get it’ can; but when necessary they can still show restraint while blowing the roof off, as they do on Nobody’s Fault But Mine and album closer; the shufflicious Go Down Fighting …… which truly needs to be turned up to 10 to get the best from it.
Those subtle and majestic flourishes are on just about every song here; and I can only dare to imagine what a fabulous night this band can create; how else can you describe what’s just gone before then add the winging and swooshing, Walk With You and a stark Gospel version of John The Revelator being on the same album; and both sounding like you’d be missing out on something special if they weren’t there.
I’m certainly going left of centre for my choice of Favourite Track; there are too many versions of Dylan’s The Times Are a Changing to mention; but this here version is up there with the very best; imagine Eric Burdon and War, produced by Curtis Mayfield in an NY cellar; and you will get the stifling claustrophobic sound these cats produce.
Not for the first time I’m left feeling confused and disappointed after reading the attached Press Release; simply because Alexander raves about touring Europe and especially the UK where fans are more ‘open minded’ about this type of music; which we are …… yet before last Monday I’d never heard of Hitman Blues Band never mind seen them on their numerous tours in recent years!
I need a better set of friends if I’ve been missing out on music this good.
Released March 15th 2021
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