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Non-Prog CD Reviews

T. J. Nix and Paul Plumeri

Blues in Disguise

Review by Gary Hill

Blues is, of course, the main feature here. Although, in keeping with the title, sometimes it’s in disguise. I remember one of my music teachers used to love to say that you can have blues without jazz, but you can’t have jazz without blues. Well, that’s true. There’s blues in jazz, right at the core. The same holds true for rock music. So, with that in mind, while some of the blues here might be disguised as jazz or even rock, it’s all blues. I love just about everything about this set. The extensive use of harmonica is just one of the endearing qualities of the disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sanctified

This fast paced blues number is an instrumental that weighs in at less than three minutes in length. It’s got some harmonica soloing and feels a bit New Orleans to me. It’s a great way to start things off in style.

Got My Dickies On
Here we get a slower blues shuffle in a number that’s just as effective. The vocal line is catchy and suitably bluesy. There’s a smoking hot guitar solo mid-track, but really everyone puts in a great performance. This is powerhouse electric blues with a horn section and another harmonica solo.
Blues in Disguise
The title track is a slower blues that’s quite traditional in construction. The horn section adds a lot and the vocal performance is quite strong. There’s a harmonica solo in this that manages to stand taller than the work on either of the previous cuts. It seems hard to believe, but this is even more powerful blues than either of those preceding tunes.
D-Train
Weighing in at almost nine-minutes in length, this instrumental is the longest track on the disc. Suitably, the sounds of a train open the track. Then the harmonica wails and they take it out into a nicely syncopated jam that’s got almost as much jazz in the mix as it does blues. There’s some real rock in this thing, too. The interesting thing is, this is only the introduction. It runs through for over two minutes like this and then drops to something more like a classic rock ballad. That holds it for another minute or so, then they fire out into a more powered up rendition of the same type of sound. It calls to mind The Allman Brothers or Marshall Tucker in a lot of ways as the guitar solos over the top of this thing. They keep building on that general style, but get pretty intense and involved in terms of the soloing.
You Can't Stop It Now
We’re back into the pure blues territory with this traditional slow blues tune. It’s got a really great tone and a killer instrumental. B. B. King is probably the most obvious reference here. The extended guitar solo on this is particularly effective and noteworthy.
Civil
There’s a killer groove to this tune. It’s got a real Cab Calloway kind of vibe. It’s equal parts jazz and blues, I’d say. I like the guitar solo quite a bit, but that bass line really rocks. One has to mention the harmonica solo, too.
Shame on You
Here’s another smoking hot traditional blues jam that’s a lot of fun. It features some great performances from all involved and continues the series of great music.
C'mon Mon
This instrumental is another that’s got a couple distinct parts. It opens with an energetic jam that’s probably about equal parts jazz and blues, but then shifts to something that’s more pure blues later. We get some more smoking hot performances and this is a great way to end the set. It does turn back to the first section at the end. There are a couple false endings to this, too.
 
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