Bill Blue (yes, his real name) is The King Of Crazy Town released this album in 2020. The good news it has climbed to the top of the review pile and I now have a slide driven slice of wonderful blues that Bluesdoodles just had to share.
Bill’s history is as fascinating as his music: he came to attention when he toured with Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. (Remember, Crudup wrote the Elvis hit That’s Alright Mama) Crudup sadly died in 1974 Bill went out on his on his own releasing two albums in 1975; the first, Indian Summer Blues was dedicated to Crudup and was followed by a more psychedelic offering called Streetpreacher. In 1980, he released two more albums Sing Like Thunder and Givin’ Good Boys A Bad Name before a move to the Florida Keys where he only occasionally ventured into local clubs. His re-emergence began in 2013 with the brilliantly titled Mojolation. Now we have (belatedly) the follow up to that with the modestly titled The King Of Crazy Town. He, along with friend and producer, Ian Shaw assembled an impressive roster of musicians and put together a really strong set of nine originals and one cover.
Bluesdoodles thoughts on The King of Crazy Town
Opening with Do What I Say Don’t Do What I Do, has a touch of Three Dog Night in blues form but better; the slide backed and picked guitars combines with neat backing to deliver a great start with a couple of sparkling solos…you may get to heaven Billy Blue, although we may not meet as I am destined to travel elsewhere!
Carolina Time is a bit slower and swampier: a rolling backbeat with Bill’s on-point vocals and the simple use of the tremolo arm is great, and the electric slide shows the psyche influence brilliantly if a little short. I Want It All, written and recorded by Eddie Hinton in 1978, is rapid, horny a blast from start to finish; not like the original but with enough recognisable to be considered a very good reading. Everybody’s Leaving Town is simply stunning: the simple strumming with occasional slide is full of atmosphere with the vocal and feint harp giving it an authenticity and authority…love it! Hunker Down is about taking cover before the storm and the ‘Spirit in the Sky’ rhythm is lifted by some superb guitar and harp behind the spoken words as well as a tasty guitar solo.
Title track, The King Of Crazy Town, is nigh on a dance floor special with the beat and horns but the vocals and guitar interjections will keep we non-dancers more than entertained too. Indianola is a tribute to B.B. King who encouraged Bill to continue after Crudup died, although it isn’t apparent at first close listening reveals a clever BB structure and equally clever lyrics. The first guitar solo is not BB but the slide cleverly uses BB phrases, and the short second one is spot on. You Ain’t Fun Anymore all-rounder clever dick, Matt Backer, on vocals on an enjoyable bluesy romp with honky piano filling out the backing. Enough Blues To Give You The Blues gets you immediately with the rhythm and delectable electric slide; the feeling lasts throughout the variation on a traditional structure, and the seemingly hesitant slide solo is genius and way, way too short. Closing Time is an electric blues with so much subtlety that you have to just close your eyes and revel in the Albatross inflexions…listen and you’ll see what I mean.
The final track, Mojolation, revisits his last album with a quality piece of ‘Snaky blues-rock…two skilled guitarists having (and giving us) a blast, but with added horns. A great instrumental to round off a strong album.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws: a Wonderful album of blues infused goodness.
1. Do What I Say Don’t Do What I Do
2. Carolina Time
3. I Want It All
4. Everybody’s Leaving Town
5. Hunker Down
6. The King Of Crazy Town
8. You Ain’t Fun Anymore
9. Enough Blues To Give You The Blues
10. Closing Time
Lead Vocals, Electric Guitar, Resonator: Bill Blue
Electric Guitar, Harmonica, Lead Vocal #8: Matt Backer
Guitar: Michael Mcadam, Bobby Devito
Drums: Joey Marchiano, Randy Morrow, Mick Kilgos
Bass: Claire Finley, Francois Gehin, Geoffrey Lowe
Piano And Hammond: Ericson Holt
Percussion: Ian Shaw
Harmonica: Bob Moughler
Backing Vocals: Lily Gonzales, Jill Cassell, Michelle Dravis, Robyn Whitehead, Mary Cassidy
Horn arrangements, Trumpet: Jason Chapman
Tenor Sax: Rob Cutts
Trumpet: Jason Chapman
Baritone Sax: Adam Seely
Trombone: Karl Lyden
All songs by Bill Blue except:
#3: Eddie Hinton, Sandra Hinton & Alvin Howard
#2, #6, #8: Bill Blue & Matt Backer
#7: Bill Blue, Matt Backer & Ian Shaw
Recorded at the Warmfuzz Studios in Key West.
(The iTunes run on track served up track from an album of acoustic instrumentals: Sounds Of Wood And Steel was put together as “a tribute to Taylor guitars”; it featured new and some surprising artists (Joe Lynn Turner for example). The track iTunes gave me though was the Bill Cooley and Kathy Matter duet called Into The Night…more upbeat than some it is still melodic, soothing piece.)