|BluesWax Rating: 10/10
As Good As It Gets
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, as I will probably reiterate again before the end of this review...this is as good as modern Blues gets. With a blessed absence of unending, masturbatory solos, an incredibly sweet-sounding production, lyrics that aren't too clever to be cool, and musicianship to-die-for, this CD, Wire and Wood is a phenomenal and thrilling oasis of state-of-the-art Blues in the desert of the genre's overdone mediocrity. Even with a whopping fifteen cuts on this CD, there is not one superfluous moment, not one song that goes on a second longer than it should, not one cut that doesn't tickle the ear and put a smile on the face.
The opening killer background guitar lick of "Kitty Kitty" starts this CD's pitch-perfect journey. Just try to resist both the infectious syncopations that surround the singing of the title lyric and clever lines such as "Can't believe you walked away/Thought you just went out to play." Another huge kudo to vocalist and keyboardist Roger Cormier, who wrote more than half of the material on this stunning album. And you know another thing that is so peachy about this cut? It's only three-and-a-half minutes long. Everyone that records these nine-minute jamathons that so few people can execute without tiring the ear (not to mention a critic's patience) could learn a lot from these folks.
The groove is no less infectious on the rockin' "Hollow Man," written by the other main contributor of material on this CD, guitarist Travis Furlong. The screaming, B.B. King-esque joyous guitar noise at the beginning brings in more incredible lyrics like "Maybe that's the key, that set my demons free/I wrote the rules and couldn't pass the test." "Don't You Worry" is one of the many splendid cuts on this disc that sounds "classic" even though it is a recent composition. Is there no higher compliment one can give a tune than that, with its kickass drum part, which takes you on a thrilling roller coaster ride of Blues bounce? (This tune also features a dynamite keyboard solo in the second break I had to listen to three times before moving on.) The blaring and wonderful horn mix at the beginning of "I Don't Know How To Win Your Love" recalls "Expressway To Your Heart" and features one of the most perfect sax solos I have ever heard in modern Blues. The ride that Don Rodgers takes in this song is flourishy without being overwrought, just long enough to make us ache for more, in other words... it's near perfect. Even if the music that makes up the tune "You're Rich And I'm Poor" sucked (which it certainly doesn't...the chords in this tune are as sweet as candy), there is simply no way I couldn't give into brilliantly witty lyrics like "Well you're rich and I'm poor/My life's a bitch, but I ain't sore."
That's all just the first third of this amazing disc! It would take writing a novel to go into that much detail about the ten remaining cuts, but since it's such a rarity in any genre of music for an album this chock full of this many tunes to not have one clunker or one cut that screams "this could have been scuttled," I gotta give every cut on this wonderful collection at least a little recognition.
"Maman Don't Play No Zydeco," but this Cajun thrill-thumper shows you these fellows sure as hell do. "Wire And Wood" is another wonderful song analogizing playing a woman with playing your...ahem...instrument. The ballad-y "If You Miss Me So Much" is gorgeous, sweet, lonesome, and absolutely perfect. The "American Bandstand"-sounding theme opening lick of "Swinging Cin" doesn't keep this killer tune from swinging and all four solos on this splendid tune are quite simply more perfect examples of how to play a Blues ride. "Boom Boom" is slithery, swaggery, sexy and as intoxicating as a shot of Jagermeister.
The last third of this CD doesn't let up. If you think French is a wimpy language listen to the power and loomingly ominous rush of the aptly named "Dangereuse" and you will so change your mind. "Six Feet Down" is another concentrated teeny-tiny two and a half minute cut of concise Blues artistry. "Million-Air" raises your hair and your blood pressure (in a good way) with some kick-ass power chords. Sheila is a very lucky lady since "Blues for Sheila" is another perfect track and the whole wonderful shebang ends with a bonus version of the earlier "Maman Don't Play No Zydeco" in French.
I told you I was going to say it again, so I will do so to conclude - this is simply as pure and perfect as modern Blues gets.