Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 108

BLUES THREE WAYS

I

n this day and age, the
blues survive in many
ways, and these three
releases show there's
more than one way to
skin the proverbial musical cat.
Greg Koch is much
more than a blues guitarist, of course, but he is
certainly well versed in
that arena. This record,
featuring Koch, his son
Dylan on drums, and Toby
Lee Marshall on B-3, covers a lot of ground, but the
blues is always the base.
Koch's biting tone and
always-interesting note
choice power the shuffle
of the title cut. When
there's funk involved
his chunky and soulful
soloing digs right in on
"Funk Meat." "Let's Get
Sinister" is a jazzy shuffle
with a solo from Koch
that is both nasty and
melodic at the same time.
A second solo starts with
volume swells before a
blistering lead kicks in.
You should pay attention to the title of "Heed
The Boogaloo." The tune
roars along powered
by Marshall's B-3 and
Koch's squealing solo
work with some interesting chromatic notes.
For Kid Ramos, it's been
quite a wait. He hasn't put
out a solo record in more
than 15 years and has
beaten some health issues

since then. He's come
through it with guitar
instincts intact. You'll get
a heaping helping of jump
blues, shuffles, and slow
blues here with tasty

Koch Marshall Trio
Toby Arrives

Kid Ramos
Old School

The Nick Moss
Band

The High Cost of Low
Living

playing and some fine
vocal help from the likes of
West Coast R&B veteran
Johnny Tucker and former
Fabulous Thunderbirds
bandmate Kim Wilson.
Ramos' solo on a surprisingly cool remake of the
classic "Mona Lisa" is
perfect in its melodicism and soulfulness.
His sliding double stops
and sinewy single-line
work are perfect on "Kid's
Jump," the record's
kick-off tune and a tribute
to B.B. King. He also fits
in wonderful tributes to
Wes Montgomery and
T-Bone Walker before
he's done. It's a fine
return from the Kid.
The latest from Nick
Moss and band showcases a traditional player and
singer with a biting tone
and a love of the blues in
various styles. The record
also features Dennis
Gruenling on harp, and the
interplay between Gruenling and Moss is a treat
on pretty much every cut.
The record does feature
a little more leaning to
the rock side than his
last couple of efforts, but
that works well given his
aggressive guitar attack.
What these records
illustrate best is that
the blues are alive and
well - and can be as
varied as you want them
to be. - John Heidt

VINTAGE GUITAR

108

September 2018

Sandy Bull

Steel Tears/
Endventions &
Tributes
W hen Cona n
O'Brien asked
Duane Eddy what
his biggest contribution to rock and roll
was, the twangmaster joked, "Probably not
singing." The late Sandy Bull might have
said the same when it came to folk music.
His first two albums, Fantasias For
Guitar And Banjo (1963) and Inventions For
Guitar And Banjo ('64), were years ahead
of their time. His blending of traditional
folk styles with jazz, classical, country, and
Middle Eastern idioms set the stage for
"world music" groups like Kaleidoscope
and the Incredible String Band, and he
"went electric" two years before Dylan,
foreshadowing psychedelia.
His albums were always strictly instrumental, but this reissue of a '96 release finds
him singing on most cuts. His vocals are
a tad "pitchy," but heartfelt. Instrumental
bonus tracks, like "Nagra Sarod" (featuring him on the fretless Indian instrument)
and "Strat 1" (with plenty of wide tremolo),
hearken back to Bull's early work.
Also included are tributes featuring the
Nitty Gritty Band's Jeff Hanna, harmonica
player Mickey Raphael, and others - which
only add to hodgepodge nature of the
whole.
Those unfamiliar with the seminal
Bull are strongly advised to pick up the
aforementioned early-'60s albums. This
postscript should be labeled "for completists only." - DF

Kid Ramos: Aigars Lapsa.

Kid Ramos

runs, pinwheeling her right arm years
before Pete Townshend, her distorted tone
rivaling Chuck Berry's "Maybellene."
Tharpe mixed gospel and secular materi
al, rubbing elbows with Duke Ellington
and Cab Calloway in the '30s and touring
England with Muddy Waters and Rev. Gary
Davis in the '60s. She influenced Berry,
Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Johnny Cash,
Jerry Lee Lewis, and other early rockers.
The dozen songs on this CD were recorded after her heyday - in 1944 she was
the first gospel singer to make Billboard's
"Harlem Hit Parade," later renamed the
R&B chart - but she was still popular in
Europe. Accompanied only by her Les
Paul goldtop, her licks and gnarly tone
are in full force, particularly on "Didn't
It Rain." - Dan Forte


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