Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 

Climax Blues Band

Albums 1969-1972

Review by Gary Hill
This new box set gathers up the first five albums from Climax Blues Band. You might notice that their sound really morphs over the period. Interestingly enough they couldn’t seem to settle on the band name, either, with some being released under the name “The Climax Chicago Blues Band” and others under “The Climax Blues Band.” The sound ranges from more of a pure blues texture to more jazzy and hard rock modes. There is a lot of great music here. This band is just so good. The set is packaged in a cardboard clamshell box. Each CD is in a cardboard sleeve that duplicates the artwork from the original album. There is a poster/booklet included, as well. There are also plenty of bonus tracks across the five CDs. This would make for a great start to a Climax Blues Band collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
CD1: The Climax Chicago Blues Band (1969)
                        
Mean Old World
This comes in as a cool old school blues jam. It really does have a Chicago blues sound to it. This has a great tone and groove. The blues harp brings it all home with style.
Insurance
I dig the guitar and the piano on this cool traditional blues number. This doesn’t have quite the same level of magic and charm as the first tune did, but it’s still strong.
Going Down This Road
This number has some hints of psychedelia built into it. In some ways this makes me think of Canned Heat. It’s definitely a bit of a different flavor, but I dig it.
You've Been Drinking
This makes me think of Jelly Roll Morton a bit. It’s a classy old-time blues number with some cool piano.
Don't Start Me Talkin'
Killer guitar blues is at the heart of this thing. B.B. King is a valid reference point in a lot of ways. The harmonica has some magical moments to it.
Wee Baby Blues
More down-home in nature, this blues tune is another with a classic sound to it. There are some Robert Johnson hints in this cut in some ways. Then again, Johnson kind of revolutionized the blues, so it’s hard to ply the trade in that genre without referencing him in some ways.
Twenty Past One
This instrumental is a good time blues jam. I dig every bit of it. It’s a lot of fun.
A Stranger in Your Town
Imagine the bluesier side of Led Zeppelin. Now, make it even bluesier and blend in some Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac. Add a bit of Jimi Hendrix and stir. You now have something very close to this tune.
How Many More Years
This number reminds me quite a bit of “Sweet Home Chicago.” The cut is a killer tune that works so well. It’s just a great groove and a lot of fun.
Looking for My Baby
The slide guitar on this thing is so tasty. It’s a killer tune. In some ways this isn’t far removed from some of the bluesier stuff from the earliest Rolling Stones discs.
And Lonely
In a big change, organ starts this cut. This slow blues tune is very tasty. I love the guitar fills and the whole mood of the piece.
The Entertainer
Yes, this is “that” song. It is purely a piano solo.
Bonus Tracks:
            
Checking on My Baby
This is such a classy rendition of a song that’s all class. The organ solo is a nice touch.
Arthur's Boogie
This boogie is a great time. It has a definite Jelly Roll Morton vibe to it. The cut is an instrumental.
Stormy Monday
The horns bring something special to this track. The guitar work is classic. The whole piece has a timeless kind of magic about it.
Don't Start Me Talkin' (Take One)
This is another classy blues tune. It’s very traditional in style.
Anybody's Boogie
This is a very short piano solo.
You've Been Drinking (Take One)
A traditional arrangement brings this version home in style.
And Lonely (Take Five)
I might actually like this version of the tune better than the final one. It’s a killer in this format. The guitar solo is particularly cool.
CD2: The Climax Blues Band Plays On (1969)
                   
Flight
This comes in with some keys that rise upward. The guitar and other instruments fire in, and the cut takes off in a killer blues meets psychedlic jam. This is energetic and so cool. There is some soaring jazz built into this thing as it drives forward. I dig the horn arrangement, but everything about this is class. It’s a great instrumental and a cool change from the sound of the first disc.
Hey Baby, Everything's Gonna Be Alright, Yeh Yeh Yeh
This is more in line with the kind of stuff we heard on the first disc. It’s a powerhouse rock music meets blues jam that is so cool.
Cubano Chant
Strummed acoustic guitar opens this. The cut works out from there into a cool jam that feels a bit like something War might have done. The piece is another instrumental, and a classy one.
Little Girl
1960s rock and roll merges with jazz on this smoking hot instrumental. It’s designed to get you on your feet. It makes me feel like I should be doing the “Bat-Dance.” This is so much fun.
Mum's the Word
Some famous classical music tones delivered on organ open this. Think of a famous Stanley Kubrick space movie, and you’ll see what I mean. The cut shifts to trippy psychedelic space music from there. This number has a real proggy kind of vibe to it. Early Pink Floyd is a valid reference point on this bit of tasty strangeness.
Twenty Past Two / Temptation Rag
This instrumental piece is a bit strange, but quite cool. Cool guitar blues drives this thing. It’s feels much more like the first disc. It’s energized, catchy and such a cool groove. The second part of the twofer makes up a good chunk of the second half of the track. It’s a piano solo that is precisely the rag it’s advertised to be. The band join to bring it all home in blues style near the end.
So Many Roads, So Many Trains
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers is a valid reference on this tasty slow blues number. It has a great tone, and some particularly tasty guitar fills. In fact, the second half of the cut, the guitar just explodes into some seriously powerhouse jamming.
City Ways
A classic old school blues sound drives this number. It’s a very cool cut.
Crazy 'Bout My Baby
I dig the smoking hot blues groove on this number. Check out that bass line that drives, lurks and creeps in the background. The honky-tonk piano is all class, too. This is such a hot tune. The jam later in the track is so cool.
Bonus Tracks:
         
Like Uncle Charlie
The A-side of a single, this powerhouse bluesy rocker makes me think of early Jethro Tull in some ways. I can hear some hints of Frank Zappa in the vocals, too. It’s a killer cut. After the one-minute mark it shifts directions completely, dropping back to an atmospheric psychedelic section. It gradually starts to rise up from there. A sea of vocals brings more of that psychedelic edge to the cut. The cut gradually works out to more of a guitar based jam from there.
Loving Machine
A smoking hot jazz rock groove drives this tune. It was released as the B-side of a single. This has something about it that make me think of Zappa, too.
Dance of the Mountain King's Daughter
There is a bouncy kind of vibe to this number. It has some psychedelic, some jazz and more built into it. This is another instrumental.
Flight (First Mix)
This mix of the opening track has a bit of an Allman Brothers kind of vibe to it. While I prefer the final sound of the piece, this is more in line with the first album in some ways. It’s also a nice bit of variety.
CD3: A Lot of Bottle (1970)
                
Country Hat
Down-blues is brought into being with acoustic slide guitar here. This has a real Robert Johnson kind of vibe to it.
Every Day
A cool electric blues groove is on hand here. There are layers of sound that bring more of a mainstream rock vibe to it. The bass is pretty far up in the mix and adds something tasty to it.
Reap What I've Sowed
This hard-edged blues rocker reminds me of Mountain a bit. It’s a killer tune and has some great slide guitar. Some of the jamming later has a real Stones vibe to it, too.
Brief Case
Jazz, blues and rock all seem to merge on this killer tune. It’s a great groove that’s so catchy. This works through some cool twists and turns, and is a heck of a ride.
Alright Blue? / Country Hat (Reprise)
The first part of this two-fer is a killer blues rock instrumental. That ends and the back-porch slide guitar rises up to continue where it left off. I’m not sure why they lumped these as two tracks. It seems they would have worked fine if presented separately.
Seventh Son
There is a weird kind of blues meets funk and groovy psychedelic vibe to this thing. For the second half of the tune this powers out into a smoking hot blues meets fusion jam. It really is on fire and oozing cool.
Please Don't Help Me
Complete with blues harp and organ, this is a killer old-school electric blues jam. It has some pretty awesome musical passages, too.
Morning Noon and Night
Soul, blues and jazz are at the heart of this driving number. It is a classy tune that’s energized and catchy. I can hear some hints of Frank Zappa in the vocal arrangement for some reason.
Long Lovin' Man
Old-time rock and roll is on the menu here. This is a tasty tune, but not one of my favorites here. It has almost a Jerry Lee Lewis kind of thing on hand at times. There is a bit of a 60s vibe to this, too, though.
Louisiana Blues
Down-home blues with an electric edge is the idea for this tune. It’s a cool cut and feels more like something that would have been at home on the band’s first album.
Cut You Loose
The bass work on this is exceptional. The organ is a big part of the mix. The whole tune has a cool 60s groove with a lot of blues at the heart of it. It works to more of a pure psychedelic rock movement at the end.
Live Bonus Tracks:
                     
Flight
This live version of the song is a real powerhouse jam. They take things into some killer psychedelic rock meets jazz zones. They take this thing through so many cool twists and turns, making a really smoking jam out of it. I would venture to say that this really comes into its rights in the live setting.
Seventh Son
This sort of loses the psychedelic edge of the studio version here, coming across more as a tastefully strange blues rocking jam. I can definitely see comparisons to Frank Zappa being made on parts of this. The jamming section later brings some serious jazz and some killer guitar soloing.
Reap What I Have Sowed
A live version of this cool bluesy hard rocker, this works reasonably well. I definitely prefer the studio take of this one, though.
CD4: Tightly Knit (1971)
             
Hey Mama
This cool tune really feels like something that that would have worked well on the first album. It has plenty of blues in the mix along with some jazz and more. The instrumental section includes some wailing harmonica and classic guitar soloing.
Shoot Her If She Runs
I dig this cool rocking jam. It has a nice mix of blues rock, psychedelia and more. There is a cool guitar and scat singing duet section later in the piece that is on fire.
Towards the Sun
This groove is so much fun. It is another that seems like it would have fit well on one of the earlier discs. There is a lot of old-school rock and roll here.
Come on in My Kitchen
A killer electric blues number, this would have definitely fit on the debut release.
Who Killed McSwiggin
This tasty instrumental leans toward progressive rock. It has plenty of fusion and even some hints of space rock at times. There are definitely parts of it that make me think of Zappa.
Little Link
This short piece has an almost Allman Brothers vibe to it.
St. Michael's Blues
This electric blues tune is a real screamer. It’s another cut that would have been at home on the band’s first album. This is an extended piece. It’s also a song that’s packed full of passion and emotion. The lyrics to this song seem to have been the inspiration for the album’s cover image.
Bide My Time
There is a cool groove to this that has some definite hints of things like The Doors. Psychedelia, funk, soul and the blues all merge on this piece. It’s a classy cut.
That's All
Starting percussive, this works out into something that feels Celtic from there. Percussion, a flute-type instrument and vocals are the essential elements of this cut.
Live Bonus Tracks:
        
Hey Mama
This live version of the opening track from the disc is delivered with a rocking style. It’s a potent piece of music.
Shoot Her If She Runs
Somehow in this live performance, this makes me think of Grand Funk Railroad to a large degree. It’s a solid tune.
Spoonful
This classic blues rocking style piece is a all class in this live take. The guitar soloing on this is particularly tasty. This has a real Muddy Waters kind of vibe to it.
CD5: Rich Man (1972)
                 
Rich Man
This comes in mellow and gradually works forward. It’s heavily percussive and has some intriguing musical elements and vibes to it in the first half. It drives up into a harder rocking number with some killer slide guitar for the second movement of the piece.
Mole on the Dole
A balladic cut, there is a lot of hippie folk ballad pop music built into this number. Some jazzy textures join later in the tune.
You Make Me Sick
A slide guitar blues rocker, this thing is so cool. It has some great saxophone and lots of other tasty aspects, too. The overall vibe is just so tasty.
Standing By a River
I dig the cool soulful rocking groove on this number. It has some hints of psychedelia, and is just an overall tasty cut.
Shake Your Love
Starting with harmonica in the mix, this works out into a cool blues rocker with that Bo Diddley beat. That blues harp figures prominently later in the number, too. This rocks out well and still delivers some serious blues.
All the Time in the World
The opening sections of this are vocal dominated. The cut has a blues meets mainstream rock vibe beyond that. There is some screaming hot guitar work built into the later parts of this.
If You Wanna Know
Another cool blues guitar rocking jam, this is tasty stuff. It has a real old school rock and roll vibe built into it and really works so well.
Don't You Mind People Grinning in Your Face
A stripped back arrangement, this features just guitar and vocals. It’s very much an old school blues piece.
Bonus Track:
             
Mole on the Dole (Single Version)
This is precisely what it says it is. The tune works pretty well in this format.
 
Return
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2019 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com