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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Eli Cook

Primitive Son

Review by Gary Hill

I know Eli Cook is considered in some ways a blues artist. Sure, there is plenty of blues in the mix here. The thing is, this thing has a lot more hard rock in it. Sure, hard rock and blues have always had a love affair, but it’s kind of hard to see this one landing more in the blues camp. Whatever you call this, though, it’s great stuff. It’s got plenty of modern elements along with a lot of retro sounds. It also includes guests ranging from Vinny Appice to Sonny Landreth and Pat Travers, along with many more notables. If you dig your music hard edged with a killer groove, give this a try. You won’t be disappointed.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
War Horse

Hard edged bluesy rock is the order of business here. The vocals land this more into hard rocking territory. It seems to have an almost metal edge to it. When it drops back mid-track and then again at the end, it makes me think of Humble Pie quite a bit.

Revelator (feat. Vinny Appice & Jorgen Carlsson)
The riff that starts this off is great. This has a soulful hard rocking vibe that is awesome. It is high energy and very classy (and classic sounding) hard rock.
Sweet Thang (feat. Tinsley Ellis)
I love the fuzz guitar sound as this one begins. The distorted groove that makes up the song proper makes me think of Lenny Kravitz. The hooks on this are among the best of the set.
High in the Morning (feat. Sonny Landreth & Reese Wynans)
In some ways this has a more stripped back, raw blues rock sound, especially at the start. Still, there are modern elements at play. The tune has a great mid-tempo grind to it. It really gets some great retro elements, at part from the soulful female backing vocals and at part from the organ.
Won’t Be Long
Acoustic slide guitar is a prominent element on this mellower piece. It’s got a definite retro sound to it. Additionally, this is very soulful. I like the more sedate approach. It lends some variety and some class.
Motor Queen (feat. Leslie West)
This hard rocker is very metallic. It’s got a great blues rock groove and really pounds out. The guitar solo (Leslie West) is a particularly meaty one.
Be Your Fool (feat. Rod Piazza)
I love how the hard edged sound on this one encompasses both modern rock and classic sounds. It’s another classy tune on a disc that’s full of them.
Swing a Little Harder
There’s a more stripped back modern sound to this in a lot of ways.
Shake the Devil Down (feat. Harvey Mandel)
Although this does rock out at times, it is also rather stripped back. It’s more modern in tone, but also has some retro elements at play.
Tall & Twisted

An acoustically driven tune, this has a very old school blues vibe. I love the slide guitar on this thing. It’s like a modern take on Robert Johnson in a lot of ways.

The Great Southern Love Kill (feat. Pat Travers & Artimus Pyle)
Hard edged and modern, but informed by classic blues rock, this is another screamer.
Amphetamine Saint (feat. Eric Gales)
A slower song, this has a bit of stoner rock vibe to it. It’s still got plenty of blues in the mix, though.
Primitive Son
The title track is arguably the most modern sounding and mainstream piece of the bunch. It’s a killer tune, too. There is some back-tracked stuff in the mix on this, lending a cool bit of psychedelia.
Burying Ground
Hard rocking sounds based in modern textures are the order of business here. Still, it has classic rock and blues in the mix.
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