RICK ESTRIN & THE NIGHTCATS
Big Time, Back From The Dead, UBU, Walk All Day, Catchin' Hell, Earthquake, PA. Slim Is Back, A Ton Of Money, Take it Slow, I'm Takin' Out My In-Laws, Cool Breeze, You Can't Come Back, Someone Somewhere, Bigfoot.
What's this? No Little Charlie! It seems that the world's most eccentric blues guitar player has handed the reins to Rick Estrin who has taken over The Nightcats, added another wilful guitarist, Norway's Kid Andersen, and slightly changed the style by upping the beat and intensity to raise the band to even greater heights. Estrin has written much of this wry, sly and swinging material too and stamps his visionary vocals and vital harmonica all over it.
Rick Estrin is probably at his best on numbers like ‘Someone, Somewhere', a slow blues that rolls with a heavy beat while his deep world-weary voice slurs out his despair before emphasising his sorrow with perfectly placed harmonica licks. But he can blast out the rockin' stuff too. ‘Big Time'. for instance, is a thundering big beat special full of explosive drumming, hot guitar and a savage, snarling harmonica solo that'll stop you in your tracks - it's just the kind of thing Magic Dick used to do with the J. Geils Band. You get to hear his harmonica at it's best though, when he's playing like Sonny Boy on ‘You Can't Come Back', stretching and bending like a king on ‘Take It Slow' and working like crazy on the funky workout ‘UBU'.
Kid Andersen fits into the band perfectly, playing bruising blues guitar on the punchy soul packed ‘Walk All Day', tremendous elongated solos on ‘Catchin' Hell' and quirky Dick Dale-style workouts on ‘Earthquake' and ‘Big Foot'. Drummer J. Hansen takes the lead vocal on his gleefully malicious ‘I'm Taking Out My In-Laws' but Kid's guitar on this track is pure dynamite. It's sharp and incisive and provides just the right impact with a nice nod to Magic Sam.
This is a humdinger of a CD and, sad as I am that Little Charlie Baty isn't present, Kid Andersen has come in with a confident energy that always marked out this band and what's more, he's helped Rick Estrin and the Nightcats to make their best CD yet!
Review Date: July 2009