Up All Night with Albert Castiglia metaphorically speaking

Albert Castiglia released his seventh album, Up All Night late last year. Apologies to him and our dear readers for the delay in reviewing it, but somehow it slipped through Othello’s paws.

If you don’t know Albert, he has a fascinating story on how he came to blues prominence. Born on August 12th, 1969, in New York, he moved to Florida aged five and made his professional debut in 1990 with Miami Blues Authority. His breakthrough really came about when Junior Wells invited him into his solo band for several world tours. “It was an incredible adventure,” recalls Castiglia. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a Chicago bluesman. Junior opened the door for me to do that.” Wells recorded his last studio album, Come On In This House, at the Dockside studio in Louisiana and this is where Up All Night was recorded too. He had fellow bluesman Mike Zito producing and this time, brought in his touring band to cut the new album. Having Jimmy Pritchard on bass and Brian Menendez on drums has tightened up the whole sound and outlook on this album as their on-stage telepathy is transferred to the studio.

The opener, composed by Mike Zito, Hoodoo On Me, has a great bass line underpinning the entire song as Castiglia revises the story of a spell-casting woman. Exorcism by guitar seems to solve it as he steams in with some very tasty guitar. The solos are the kind you wish would last a lot longer. I Been Up All Night has some iffy behaviour, “….rolling joints as big around as my thumb.”, while Castiglia’s brilliant wah-wah bathed guitar suits the mood completely. Songwriter and poet, Graham Wood Drout contributes two compositions, with the funky, staccato delivery of Three Legged Dog and Knocked Down Loaded which is built on some wonderful guitar riffs and phrasing, with a funky twist. 95 South is a true blues-rock affair and is gilded by Sonny Landreth using his trademark slide guitar to superb effect, highlighting every line and contributing a stylish solo. The pace slows on the impolitely titled Quit Your Bitching, another Zito contribution, which has an undoubted Hooker feel as Castiglia’s guitar plays just the right amount of notes and, when the need arises, doesn’t! Also apparent is the warm keyboards filling the sound courtesy of Lewis Stephens. On Woman Don’t Lie he has again taken a standard structure and injected a bit of modernity into it with a fascinating guitar pattern. Another guest, Johnny Sansone, adds expansive harp on a cover of Cyril Neville’s Unhappy House Of Blues. He appears again on Delilah, which has a lively pace, and a nice, understated guitar solo, but seems a little empty when up against some of the other tracks here. Castiglia is less than PC on Chase Her Around The House, which evokes the Beach Boys, but a fiery guitar solo gives the song a depth and rescues it in the end. The closing track is a Pritchard composition called You Got Me To That Place. Mike Zito joins Castiglia on acoustic guitar and backing vocals to bring us a no-frills, infectious slice of countrified blues. It has a lovely acoustic solo too, which is a lot more difficult than on an electric, believe me.

The only negative issue, for me, is one or two of the tracks are best described as safe standards. That’s not to say they aren’t good, but with the calibre of Castiglia and his rhythm section I suppose I expected more distinctiveness; a new, old blues if you will. He proves it can be done the way he takes standard blues approach and still breathes new life into the format on Quit Your Bitchin’ and Woman Don’t Lie. The backing he uses is as proficient as he is and they make a sound which I can’t help thinking is very like we have Tal Wilkenfeld and Mitch Mitchell (which is a compliment by anyone’s measure) playing alongside the accomplished Castiglia. It is still a very good album and every solo is worth listening to and I doubt any blues lover would be disappointed.

Albert Castiglia – Up All Night – RUF Records

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing:

  1. Hoodoo On Me
  2. I Been Up All Night
  3. Three-Legged Dog
  4. 95 South
  5. Knocked Down Loaded
  6. Quit Your Bitching
  7. Woman Don’t Lie
  8. Unhappy House Of Blues
  9. Delilah
  10. Chase Her Around The House
  11. You Got Me To That Place

Musicians:
Albert Castiglia: guitar, lead vocals
Jimmy Pritchard: bass
Brian Menendez: drums
Sonny Landreth: slide guitar
Mike Zito: guitar, vocals
Johnny Sansone: harp
Lewis Stephens: keyboards.

 

Up All Night with Albert Castiglia metaphorically speaking

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