After recently reviewing Volume 1 of Kitchen table blues, I make no apology for the copy and paste introduction…
If you are not aware of The Reverend Shawn Amos, I heartily recommend you search the Bluesdoodles archive to discover his previous work…particularly his last album, Breaks It Down, which had the most audacious, clever, faithful and brilliant cover version on it…he took Bowie’s Jean Genie and made it into an even more memorable song. His history is long and distinguished…after many years in the music industry (as Artist & Repertoire executive at Rhino and Shout!, as well as a noted producer for Heart and Quincy Jones amongst others), he began his own solo career and has released a number of albums since 2005.
The Rev has also been active on YouTube and has uploaded, I believe the term is, ninety videos of visits by his musical friends to his kitchen where he cooked for them and then they performed songs together…well worth checking these out to witness impromptu versions of dozens of great songs. Now The Rev has put out an EP of five more tracks that mean something significant to him… called simply Kitchen Table Blues Vol 2 it also gives us the opportunity to share in his innovative way with covers.
The opening song is the Robert Johnson classic Sweet Home Chicago: The Rev, like me, is not a big fan of the modern versions and so he has taken the master’s version, and turned out a superb version as the guitar is nice and basic as The Rev sings in a suitably plaintive way. The lovely Jean Mclain is listed as taking part, although I could only hear her occasional ‘comments’ in the background…it does actually add to the atmosphere though. Li’l Liza Jane is next and many artists have covered this traditional song. The Rev however has The Mudbug Brass Band turning it into a cacophonous romp in a very good way…this is great fun. Bright Lights, Big city is next and, with the perfectly pitched accompanying vocals of Mindi Abair it is transformed into a version Jimmy reed would most definitely approve of. The harp solo is short and very sweet. The star of the track for me though is the very clever guitar phrasing behind it all…if only it could have had a solo too! Whatcha Gonna Do is a Pablo Cruise song I was not familiar with and, having checked it out, I won’t be listening to it again…a 70s style funk come disco song is not for me. However, in The Rev’s hands it has turned into a soulful blues song with a great upright bass backing and strummed guitar. The harmony vocal with Lester Lands makes a nice addition too. He saves the best until last on this too short EP as we get a great reworking of Ruth Brown’s Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean. The guitar tone is the right side of harsh as the Rev’s daughter, Piper Amos, does the vocals is a style to suit the original in every way. (I am confident that the title isn’t true in the Amos household!) The bad news is that Piper is studying medicine and we may only get to hear her via the Kitchen.
This EP is just under twenty minutes long and yet, once again, The Rev has packed in some great cover versions one of which is way, way better than the original and the others are brilliant interpretations of some classic songs. You will never be disappointed with any of his output and the only criticism I can really level is the brevity and the lack of guitar solos with that tone I wish I could replicate, but cannot. If you have any of the other EPs or albums than this is an essential addition…if you don’t, then it’s a good starting point for you Rev Amos collection…always professional, well-played and, above all, fun.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Sweet Home Chicago (Robert Johnson)
- Li’l Liza Jane (Traditional)
- Bright Lights, Big City (Jerry Ragovoy / Norman Meade)
- Whatcha Gonna Do (Cory Charles Lerios / David Michael Jenkins)
- Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean (Charlie Singleton / Herb Lance / Johnny Wallace)