Travel South Roman Street With Crow Black Chicken

Crow Black Chicken doesn’t get choked in Charlie’s Bar! The band was formed in 2009 in Cork City in the Republic of Ireland, when lead singer Christy O’Hanlon met the former rhythm section of Punk outfit Aural Ammunition, Stephen McGrath (Bass) and Gev Barrett (Drums). Now, I am guessing, but I think their name could well have been sourced from the Ry Cooder track of the same name…this is further strengthened by O’Hanlon’s penchant for slide guitar which, of course, Cooder is a brilliant exponent of. This particular power trio combines elements of folk, hard rock with blues-rock and so tend to be pigeonholed with bands like Gov’t Mule and Lynyrd Skynyrd plus, as they are similarly bearded, ZZ Top often feature. To me, however, it goes deeper and they actually produce a blues-driven sound that reminds me more of Robin Trower, Rory Gallagher and the Allman Brothers and the sophistication of these artists is inherent in CBC’s music too. The band has released 4 albums to date and this live album is a collection from those. A quick word of warning: if you do not appreciate Irish humour and a little fruity language, then please skip the occasional between-song chatter… it is funny though!

Starting with Justice, we get a slow swampy intro tape before they start a bass and drum shuffle, then a great Gallagher style slide leads into the vocal. The solo, however, starts as slide and then a pedal full of wah keeps it different. A brief cheer from the audience and then straight into Rumble Shake, with more wah as we get a straightforward blues pattern, extended by the skill of Christy who is a front man who can sing and play at the same time. The solo is a high spot, courtesy of simple extended slide runs in the lower octaves. A pause and then into Pourin’ Down with nice use of echo this time. This sounds like it could have been on Bridge of Sighs, with its rhythm and wah punctuated verses. After a discourse on “bulgy items”, Charlie’s Women is a faster blues with a kind of Leslie West feel. The title track, South Roman Street, maybe inspired by the street of that name in New Orleans, and it is a slow burning heavy blues with a cracking effect laden solo. Electric Soup follows, with barely a pause and shows a distinct Hendrix inspiration and sound. Next up is an elongated explanation of how an unfortunate Spanish deer suffered death by car and yet managed to inspire the song Deer Meat Unloaded. This is a little Toppish and is a short, strong blues-rock number. Calib comes in without introduction and is almost Bon era AC/DC with its chord driven grounding and has another brief but still hefty solo. A long pause where the audience chatters away and then comes the brilliant not quite ballad, Lie Awake. Slow rhythm and rim shots with another Trower with Dewar feel to the whole thing. A story of 1978 that eventually leads to the reason why the next song is called Jonestown. I can only describe this as an electric field song…if such a thing can exist. It has that feeling despite the clever drum pattern behind the chorus, and the electric backing. The Prophet gets no explanation: the lads just get into a Latin flavoured beat with lovely echoed guitar overlaid. No pause, again, but straight into another Trower tinged blues rocker. The extended guitar led intro is a delight, as is the solo in the middle. Penultimate track, Bleedin’, is my first Govt. Mule thought…now, if they had extended into a long jam like Warren Hayes would probably have done, I would not be complaining! The Drop wraps it all up with another James Dewar piece of blues-rock, and a great way to finish too.

Recorded Live at Bakers Bar in Clonmel, and Charlie’s Bar in Cork, this is a best of…live. (See elsewhere on Bluesdoodles for review of shows and follow the link for a review of the album Pariah Brothers). Apart from being a bit muddy in the mix at times, considering this is a live album, recorded in two intimate settings (bars!), it’s still a quality recording and a very worthwhile effort. McGrath and Barrett do a sterling job throughout, with a distinctive style and sound of their own: always tight and never overwhelming, like any good rhythm section should be. It’s obvious the crowd and the band are having a good time and, if you want to join in, you’re more than welcome: it is 14 tracks lasting an hour (plus being regaled by Christy for around 10 minutes) of really enjoyable blues.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Justice
  2. Rumble Shake
  3. Pourin’ Down
  4. Charlie’s Women
  5. South Roman Street
  6. Electric Soup
  7. Deer Meat Unloaded
  8. Calib
  9. Lie Awake
  10. Jonestown
  11. The Prophet
  12. Pat McManus
  13. Bleedin’
  14. The Drop

 

Travel South Roman Street With Crow Black Chicken

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