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Steve Ditzell & Blue Lightning Band

Blues For Theresa

Review by Gary Hill

The latest release from Rockford Illinois' Steve Ditzell and Blue Lightning Band, this disc shows a very traditional blues style to their music. While in live appearances they sometimes wander more into the harder rocking territory popularized by people like Stevie Ray Vaughn, this album stays closer to its old school roots. That's not to say that fans of the more hard rock guitar style will feel disappointed. There is certainly enough of Ditzell's fiery soloing to keep them happy. It's just that the overall tone has a more traditional air to it.

For fans of authentic blues this one will also be a treat as it includes guest appearances by the late Junior Wells. He joins Ditzell and the band (Dave Kaye on bass and Marty Binder handling the drums) on six of the ten tracks - of course meaning that these were recorded a while ago. Those listeners should also find familiar territory here with the choice of songs. Just over half the tracks are blues standards with Ditzell creating new classics with his own song craft on the remainder. In fact, the originals have so much old school blues texture that it's hard to believe they aren't tried and true songs that have been around for thirty years or more.

If you haven't heard Ditzell, by all means, pick this one up. His heartfelt love of the musical style and his skill at both vocals and tasty guitar work would make it a winner with any band. When you add in the guest appearance of Wells on harmonica and vocals and the classy playing of Kaye and Binder, though - this really stands tall above most of the competition. For anyone familiar with Ditzell I'm most likely preaching to the choir, as they probably already have the disc. This guy is a real blues man, and if you've seen him, you're probably already hooked. For more information, or to order the CD, stop by the official site.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Blues For Theresa
They open the disc with a Ditzell original, a slow blues groove. Wells puts in some killer harmonica work on this one, screaming it at times. Ditzell takes the chance to lay down some tasty riffs, too - and they get in a cool harmonica / lead guitar duet, too.
Packin' Up
This one is faster and funky. It's another Ditzell composition. It's also another that's graced by the presence of Wells. 
It Hurts Me, Too
This is a very slow traditional blues grind.
Best Poker Hand
This one comes across as a much faster shuffling blues. It has some cool quirky changes.
Wild Wild Woman
Starting with Wells' harmonica, this is a back porch old school slide guitar number. It's another Ditzell original, but it would be just as easy to believe this one could have been penned by the late great Robert Johnson. That's how authentic it feels. Ditzell purely tears up the fret board in the later segments of this one. At just over seven minutes this jam is the longest cut on the disc. It's also one of my favorites.
Sadie
This has more of a modern blues groove set with a classic progression. While it's a Hound Dog Taylor number, it feels a bit like Wilson Pickett to me. This is another standout.
Blues So Bad
This one takes it back to the old school slide guitar blues, and again it's Ditzell's songwriting making it sound like this was written in the '20's.
Mystery Train
I first heard this one performed by UFO. Needless to say, this is a much different, more authentic blues take. It's a real guitar showcase and major smoker.
Bleeding Heart
This is another awesome blues workout, and it has some of the hottest guitar work on the disc.
Had My Fun
Another killer blues jam, this one is a smoking shuffle.
 
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