Quick takes: The Holmes Brothers, The Mannish Boys, and the ‘Burgh’s bluesiest

As the month begins to wind to a close, here are a few more March releases worth checking out:

The Holmes Brothers Feed My Soul (Alligator Records)
holmes_bros_feed_my_soulYou can always count on the Holmes Brothers for some interesting lyrics and music, and this latest release is no exception. From the quiet title track and other slow but steady tunes like “I Saw Your Face,” the Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back,” and “Pledging My Love,” to the more uptempo, foot tapping “You’re the Kind of Trouble” and “Rounding Third,” and the slightly reggae sound of “Something is Missing,” the brothers have compiled another solid album to showcase their unique R&B gospel sound. “I Believe You I Think” sounds like something Alligator labelmate Tommy Castro might have done (or should do at some point), in addition to offering some memorable lyrics (“You say you’ll change your ways, you’ll never do it again/the new man you had, he’s just a has-been/although your record stinks, I believe you I think”) along with others such as “Put My Foot Down” (“I finally made up my mind, gonna’ be different this time/take what’s your’s, I’ll take what’s mine/finally decided I’m gonna change my own luck/I’ve got to put my foot down so I can hold my head up”).

The Mannish Boys Shake for Me (Delta Groove)
mannish_boys_shake_for_meFrom the opening beats of “Too Tired” and into the “Mona/Willie and the Hand Jive” medley that follows, it’s clear that Shake for Me is another worthwhile release from this consistently entertaining supergroup with a traditional blues sound. From there, they slow things down briefly with the Lowell Fulson classic “Reconsider Baby” and then roll on to offer plenty of other highlights that include “Last Night,” covers of Ray Charles’ “Hey Now” and Muddy Waters’ “Champagne and Reefer,” instrumental “The Bullet,” “You’ve Got Bad Intentions,” “Those Worries,” and a guest appearance from the great Arthur Adams on “Raunchy” before the album comes to a close what seems all too soon with “Way Down South.” It’s likely that you’re going to want to listen to these guys all night once you get started with Shake for Me, so you may want to either set your player to “repeat” or have one or two of the band’s previous releases –Lowdown Feelin’Big PlansLive and In Demand, or That Represent Man, any of which will certainly do – handy to throw on next.

Various Artists Blues from the Burgh 2 (Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania)
burgh2A few weeks ago, we wrote about the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania’s (BSWPA)
CD release party celebrating the group’s second CD compilation of Pittsburgh’s local blues artists, including Wil E. Tri and the Bluescasters, Jill West and Blues Attack, Jimmy Adler, Ernie Hawkins, Gary Belloma and the Blue Bombers, Angel Blue and the Prophets, Mahajibee Blues Band, Eugene Morgan, and Ron Yarosz and the Vehicle, several of whom were also featured on the Society’s first Blues from the Burgh CD. Although we weren’t able to join the party, the BSWPA did provide us a copy of the CD, which includes particularly impressive performances from Miss Freddye and Blue Faze on the opening “These are My Blues,” Billy the Kid and the Regulators’ “Say You Wanna Woman,” an Eric Burdon-sounding offering from the Mahajibee Blues Band in “Little Man,” and perhaps the album’s best track, the slow blues of Bubs McKeg and Dr. Blue’s “How in the World.” While this second installment from the Society isn’t quite as impressive as the first, Blues from the Burgh 2 does make a nice companion piece to the original. And, after too long an absence of recordings spotlighting the region’s blues talent, you have to hand it to the BSWPA for helping to fill the void by putting out two nice samplings in relatively short order.

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