Friday, March 28, 2008

CD Review: Luboš Andršt Blues Band with Reesie Davis

Everything I’ve Done
BEST I.A., J10071-2, 2007

The LABB is an ever-evolving beast, usually supplemented by a guest musician or vocalist. Young guitarist Lukáš Martinek and veteran Ramblin’ Rex sometimes fill this role, but Everything I’ve Done captures the band with smoky-voiced American singer Reesie Davis up front. Also onboard were the groovy organ talents of Jan Kořínek and a powerful rhythm section of Pavel Razím on drums and “Wimpy” Tichota on bass.

The album is a mixture of original material and blues standards, including the jaunty opener of “Watch Yourself” (Little Walter Jacobs). The sound is tight, glossy, and quick paced, and this is the format for most of the album. Guitar and organ trade leads, the latter keeping things nice and funky. There are no quick hits on this album – the shortest track is almost six minutes long – and so development and progression are exhibited. A place for everything and everything in its place.

“Keep Your Money” (Reesie Davis) follows the same format and tempo, with a nice snarly lyric and catchier lead lines than are normally socially acceptable in serious music. However it is with the third track, “No More Excuses” (Luboš Andršt / Reesie Davis) that the album really catches alight. Andršt is a fine interpreter of other people’s material, but he is an excellent writer in his own right. Taut, pushier, and darker than usual, “No More Excuses” fairly clatters along as a salutary warning to the overly-compliant. The guitar work is down and dirty, although the opening riff will raise a smile amongst those who own a copy of Andršt’s Imprints album (1992). Kořínek also throws in some broad walls of sound and pleasing organ rumbles.

If further evidence was required of the quality of the original writing on this album then Exhibit A would have to be the title track, “Everything I’ve Done” (Luboš Andršt / Reesie Davis). This one is the epic, the elegy, the prayer and the pudding all rolled into one. From the opening soaring guitar, to the vocal lines soaked in desolation and desperation, it kicks some serious proverbial. If this song was a drink it would be the first swig from the second bottle of bourbon on the night your third wife left you. With the dog. Nine minutes of pure beauty and sadness, with the Andršt hallmark stamped all over it. Like the best of his work it doesn’t fit neatly into a pigeonhole. A touch of rock in the blues? A touch of blues in the jazz? The purist may look at lines in the sand but the wise listener will be too busy playing air guitar and /or drinking to care.

The only problem with “Everything I’ve Done” is that it puts the rest of the album in the shade. For sure their romp through classics by Little Johnny Taylor and T-Bone Walker are sharply played and delivered with panache, and Wimpy knocks out a fine slappy solo on “Cryin’ Won’t Help You” (Hudson Whittaker / Tampa Red), but you’ve already been sucker punched.

Everything I’ve Done is a good album with some great moments and, unlike a lot of LA albums, is easy enough to obtain. It does leave you wondering though… if the two Andršt/Davis originals are that good, why they Hell didn't they write a whole album together?!

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