Take a kid who fell in love with the electric guitar and by his early 20s had begun to make inroads into the blues circuit of his native Kansa City, only to pulled down by drugs and alcohol…those addictions ruined Jimmie Bratcher’s marriage but, love conquers all as they say, and he and wife Sherri remarried and (facilitated by the preacher who remarried them) he went into the ministry and Jimmie dedicated the next twenty years to his calling. Fast-forward to 2001 and, thanks to the gift of a Telecaster from his son a few years earlier, the six strings re-entered his life and he released his debut album, Honey In The Rock. His calling plus his undoubted skill on the electric guitar has earned him the moniker ‘The Electric Rev.’
Eleven albums, two DVDs and a couple of books later he has released a new CD (and a recipe book to accompany it) called I’m Hungry which (mostly and unsurprisingly) is themed around food and cooking. This new one could also have been themed on class guitar playing as he mixes blues, soul, a hint of jazz and r’n’b on the ten original and two cover songs.
Opening with quality barrelling piano, I Love Her Name, is joined by the band in a rocking blues that may not seem eating related but the “Her Name” referred to is food… great fun with a neat guitar solo from Jimmie and frantic soloing on piano to the climax.
Mama Won’t Fry No Chicken is a blues shuffle lament about dieting due to doctor’s orders…more humour backed by tight rhythms and a sharp, inventive guitar piece as an outro. Bacon Is On My Mind is built around the standard twelve bar riff, but with added weight and more neat piano; “I smell bacon, bacon is on my mind” may not be the normal line in a love song but, when backed up by quality blues, it is very good with great lead guitar and piano breaks building to the solos…piano then guitar share the limelight beautifully.
Baby, I Like What Your Cooking is a popish, jazzy (possibly mucky) and cleverly constructed song with the brushed drums a little overarching but, once again, the piano and, especially, the guitar absolutely on point.
Keb’ Mo’ provides the first cover song as Jimmie hits the funk button on this socio-political commentary that’s as relevant today as then; the drum intro to Government Cheese is genius and the Stevie Salas like chord work is a treat, as is the solo which is given ample to time to explore the whole neck and no unnecessary notes to be found.
Where You Gonna Stop delivers (pun intended) a R’n’B laced tour of Kansas City eateries…seriously! I’m getting hungry just listening to this but, fortunately I can just feat on the tasty guitar playing instead.
Greasy is a suitably titled instrumental gentle romp with some delightful soloing from Jimmie which again shows he knows his way around and instinctively knows when a bend, a sustain or a run fits and stitches it all together seamlessly.
Next up is a musical discussion about the value (or otherwise) of the humble bird: Chicken Tastes The Same has a rhumba rhythm with lovely even if slightly incongruous dobro style slide. Taken and updated from his The Electric Rev album, Green Bananas – Remix, is a New Orleans jazzy familiar yet different blast where I think the bananas is more an analogy to limited time rather than a foodstuff…the spoken word section suggests this anyway. Great fun with plenty of horns to keep the jazz flavour alive.
The Stax classic Grits Ain’t Groceries by Little Milton is updated to an electric blues shuffle with some fabulous guitar…the solo is the highlight of the album for me as Jimmie uses the right amount of notes with added bends where and when necessary; it could have been a half hour longer, and the war’s solo outro could have been an hour!
Bologna Sandwich Man is a revisited song from his Secretly Famous album; a countrified blues bemoaning the overeating on chicken and turkey and wishing for an alternative carnivore menu, preferably bologna. The song is short and sweet with a lovely slide guitar piece. Final track, Happy, is a sort of progressive rock blues and (happily) is full of tasty guitar soloing and a great burst of Hammond too…the tuning of the snare is a bit suspect but it is still a fine work.
In summary then, a feast (sorry, but it had to be said) of variations on a blues theme with plenty for everyone to enjoy…even if you’re vegetarian. The menu is full of choice cuts and side dishes that should provide for anyone’s appetite…OK, I’ll stop now: suffice it to say, this is a very enjoyable album that will get regular visits on my playlists.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – A Wonderful album of food based blues fit for carnivore and vegetarian alike.
1. I Love Her Name
2. Mama Won’t Fry No Chicken
3. Bacon Is On My Mind
4. Baby, I Like What Your Cooking
5. Government Cheese (Keb’ Mo’)
6. Where You Gonna Stop
8. Chicken Tastes The Same
9. Green Bananas – Remix
10. Grits Ain’t Groceries (Little Milton)
11. Bologna Sandwich Man
Jimmie Bratcher: guitar, vocals
John Selle: piano, organ
(Apologies to the other musicians, but I couldn’t find details anywhere.)
(iTunes served up some fabulous stuff from 1929..a yodelling start may not sound great but Train Whistle Blues from Jimmie Rodgers is quality seminal blues…lovely.)