Blood Brothers – Live In Canada
This is quite a rollicking set. Live sets even by name acts can be recorded in a manner that captures music & ambiance but not energy. This has energy. Opening with “Hey Sweet Mama,” the band lets loose with both barrels & plasters the audience with good times through their blister-fingered runs & steely vocal bites.
The guitars puncture the air & the drums possess the set. You may be alone in your cave, but you’ll find yourself tapping your toes, wiggling your ass & finally getting up if no one sees you to boogaloo in your jammies. The 12 energetic tunes on Live In Canada (Drops Nov 17-Gulf Coast Records/78:00) were produced by award-winning guitarist Mike Zito (vocals/guitars) & recorded at Blue Frog Studios in British Columbia, Canada (May 2023).
If you’re an enthusiast you’ll remember the best of Foghat, Black Oak Arkansas, early J. Geils Band & Southside Johnny when they were firing on all 16 cylinders. The vocals on Blood Brothers are indulgent, the guitars slice the air & there’s really no retro baloney, it’s all salami.
Each musician knows how to read the other. It’s a tight ensemble showcase. You just need the right speakers, whiskey & atmosphere. “Tooth & Nail” & “Hill Country Jam” have a Lynyrd Skynyrd accelerant & a Dickey Betts tradition. So, if you liked that jab with musical uppercuts & right crosses this match is thrilling.
Many dedicated rockers have released LPs with songs that are cocktails without alcohol. Not true here. This is 110-proof precision that even drips into their more soulful aggregations mixed with heady rock ingredients — sample “In My Soul,” & “A Thousand Heartaches.”
You could call this party music — it certainly opens up avenues of sociability among wallflowers & survivors of the 60s. This is electrified blues that doesn’t necessarily want to start an inferno beneath your mirror ball, but they do want you to savor the potency of their smoke. There’s a tendency to be nostalgic as they navigate through various melodies & at times David Clayton Thomas’s vocalizing style (“Fool Never Learns”).
A good time will be had for all within earshot. (Rock n’ roll has a steroid injection with these performances. The live video version here is the nuclear-powered Moulin Blues 2023 show).
Highlights – “Hey Sweet Mama,” “Tooth & Nail,” “In My Soul,” “Fool Never Learns,” “A Thousand Heartaches,” “No Good Woman,” the scalding “My Business,” good drum solo on “Hill Country Jam,” nice barrel-house piano on “Bag Me, Tag Me, Take Me Away,” the worthy “Gone To Texas” & Neil Young’s classic “Rockin’ In the Free World.”
Musicians – Award-winning guitarist Albert Castiglia (vocals/guitars), Doug Byrkit (bass guitar), Matt Johnson & Ephraim Lowell (drums/percussion), & Lewis Stephens (piano/organ).
CD cover photo courtesy of Danya Artimisi. Color image of the duo by Norma Touchette. CD @ https://www.bloodbrothersband.com/