Randy Casey thanks his guitar on I Got Lucky

The first thing to say about Randy Casey is that, despite the title of his eighth album being I Got Lucky…the old adage of you make your own luck must apply here. Casey has been in the industry for thirty years and has been a session musician for some remarkable musicians across many genres; he has been a sideman for luminaries such as Robert Cray, Melissa Etheridge, Jimmie Vaughn, and Buddy Guy as well as a frontman playing his own style(s) and confirming him as a songwriter of some considerable skill. This wide-ranging exposure to so many different types of music has infused his own compositions with all kinds of influences…fortunately, from my point of view at least, on this album the base is most certainly the blues and it is hugely enjoyable picking out the additional genres…rock, country, all kinds of blues from field to delta to the ‘British Invasion’ take on the blues and R’n’B and even pop and electronica have had an effect…it is a heady mix that actually works really well across the twelve tracks on offer here. The album was inspired and written on a 1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom that he’d been allowed to play by a neighbour years previously and was recently given a chance to buy.

Starting off with that wonderful guitar supplying the tone as Casey puts in a brilliant performance on Bed Bug Blues. He lays down some great examples of how a bottleneck should be used to light up the entire neck. The title track, I got Lucky, could be a tribute to that guitar…or maybe he did get lucky? It is a slight disappointment after the highs of the first track as it is a jaunty piece of R’n’B that is well executed but, ultimately, sounds a bit lightweight and despite the decent harp-work it leaves me wanting more grit and more of that great guitar sound that never makes it out of a support role. Six Feet Of Rain lifts the standard right back up with a great, classic guitar introduction out of the Gary Moore school of blues phrasing. The solo too is exceptional and Casey remembers that there are six strings and twenty two frets and doesn’t spoil it with widdles….just pure guitar lyricism. Beware of the false fade as the song comes back for a few seconds. Soo Line starts with some laughing and a swear word before some simply brilliant slide guitar and it stays with us all the way as the band take up the train on the track rhythm…which will never grow old. OK, the use of this structure may appear at first listen to be too similar but listen closely and the different guitars and patterns will be revealed and enjoyed. The harp solo is on point too but the true highlight is the harmonised slide and picked guitars. Little Weed…not from Bill and Ben…showing my age there! No, it is electric delta at its finest with the slide again used to fantastic effect. I may not agree with the “harmless” weed in question but this is a song that I will return to many times because again, the different guitars being used can only be truly revealed by repeated and careful listening…do it and you will be rewarded on this great little song. Strange moves us into a blues-rock feel and a damn good feel it is. The riff has some really clever touches to keep it fresh throughout…a simple harmonic here and there can make such a difference as long as it isn’t overdone…and it isn’t. I love this song for so many reasons…the guitar tone, the bass line and the subtle keys all strengthen an already powerful tune. One Step Ahead is next and shows a little R’n’B with a typical Keith sort of riff and it comes together so well, almost as if Lowell George was playing the Stones. Slide punctuates nicely and supplies yet another great solo. That Train is acoustic picking and slide in this country blues tune that is a delightful diversion from the weightier tracks and, yet again, the solo is excellent…but too short. The Chaperone is next and changes the feel back to electric delta and a lesson in how a wah-wah pedal can be used for emphasis rather than an excuse for histrionics. It’s an uncomplicated and yet complex song with the keys, bass, drums and backing guitar weaving a tasty tapestry. The solo is all over the neck and the wah helps to make that guitar sing. By the way, there are some superb lines in the lyrics if you listen carefully. The New Old Landlord Blues is a song that is sort of blues-rock but goes further…it has a riff that is sparse and yet so effective; it uses few chords and a staccato style; the keys burble and add a colour and the whole thing comes together brilliantly. Broken Arm Blues changes type and, via the slide work, come across as Creedence playing The Allmans to create a sort of country, blues, rock effect. Final track, Racing Stripes, is back to true blues…although I’m not sure how his dog has racing stripes but the guitar work is once against exceptional throughout and even the slightly discordant backing vocals work well. The basic acoustic riff is very similar to Robert Johnson’s Stones In My Passway, but all is forgiven as the electric and acoustic duet solo (if you can have a duet solo!) is absolutely superb. This track lasts over seven minutes and it is still too short and that is after it was on repeat, repeat.

All in all then this is a damn good album which deserves, and will get, repeated plays: the only (bed) bug in my ointment is the title track which, I feel, belongs on a different collection…but that’s just me and I have found eleven other tracks that are top drawer. If you love blues and blues guitar, then this is a worthwhile addition to the collection.

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing:

  1. Bed Bug Blues
  2. I Got Lucky
  3. Six Feet Of Rain
  4. Soo Line
  5. Little Weed
  6. Strange
  7. One Step Ahead
  8. That Train
  9. The Chaperone
  10. The New Old Landlord Blues
  11. Broken Arm Blues
  12. Racing Stripes

All songs written and arranged by Randy Casey

Musicians:

Randy Casey – Lead and harmony vocals, percussion, mandolin and guitars

David J. Russ – Drums on tracks 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, tambourine on track 3

Noah Levy – Drums on tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9 RC – Drums on track 5

Aaron “Al” Bergstrom – Bass on tracks 1, 7, 8, and 10

Martin Rush – Bass on tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11 and 12

Steve Price – Bass on track 4

John “Pinetree” Paynich – Harmonica on tracks 2 and 4

Steve Thorp – Organ on tracks 3, 6, and 9

Peter J. Sands – Organ on tracks 5, 10 and 11

John Eller – Piano, harmony vocal on track 7

Brad Stoll – Djembe on track 5

Jenny Russ – Harmony vocal on track 12



Produced by

David J. Russ and Randy Casey

Mixed by

David J. Russ at bIAS studios, Minneapolis

Recorded at

Dharma Lab, Seattle; bIAS studios, Minneapolis and IPR, Minneapolis.
Randy Casey thanks his guitar on I Got Lucky

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