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July 2007

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Mannish Boys
Big Plans
Delta Groove Productions

Mannish Boys

You almost need a scorecard to keep track of who is doing what, playing what and singing where on the Mannish Boys' latest record, Big Plans, but the result is a satisfying blend of the core group with guest performances by a number of artists including Jody Williams, Mitch Kashmar, Bobby Jones, Rob Rio and more. Big Plans to me is the most satisfying of the three Mannish Boys releases and that bodes well for this record.

Kirk Fletcher kicks the party off with his lead guitar work on the Long John Hunter classic, “Border Town Blues.” “Down in El Paso, where the girls are really fine…come on down to El Paso…I’ll try to get you a girl like mine” sings Finis Tasby as he lets us know that he’s picked a flower from the banks of the Rio Grande. Paris Slim wrote the next cut, “I Can’t Stay Here,” and contributes some excellent slide guitar to the mix as he laments his hard luck. “I can’t make a nickel…so I can’t stay here!” Kid Ramos takes over on lead guitar while Finis lets us know his true feelings on “I Get So Worried”. Rob Rio supports Finis on piano as his pain comes through loud and clear, “I get so sad and lonesome…when my baby ain’t around.” Things aren’t good when his woman is gone but Finis is sure she’s here to stay.

Bobby Jones takes over the vocals for the Tom Leavey penned “Mary Jane.” “Mary Jane…can’t you hear me crying out for you…Mary Jane…if I don’t have you baby…I feel so sad and blue”. Randy Chortkoff’s harp work accentuates the fact that this relationship is over and its time for Mary Jane to go. “Here I am…carpet bag in hand…yea I’ll take your money…steal your women away…” So sings Rob Rio on the song he wrote, “Carpet Bagger Blues.” The carpetbagger is definitely a wanderer to be feared as he makes his way through town. Kirk Fletcher’s wailing guitar solo echoes the pain this evil man has been known to cause and the town will be better off when he leaves it behind.

Johnny Dyer contributes both harp and vocals on “Just to Be With You.” “There ain’t nothing…nothing I wouldn’t do baby…just to be with you!” His passionate harp solo tells us just how much Johnny loves this woman and wants to be with her. Slim’s slide guitar returns to back Leon Blue on “Gotta Move.” Leon’s woman just doesn’t love him anymore, “she won’t cook…she won’t wash…she won’t iron…she won’t sew…spend all of my money…walk the street both day and night.” Its time to cut this woman loose and Leon is right, he’s “gotta move”, move on that is. Bad luck seems to be a reoccurring theme as Finis steps back to the mic on “Why Do Things Happen to Me?” “So many strange things….they happen to me all day long…seems like everything I do…everything I do is wrong.” Brilliant lead guitar by Kid Ramos underscores the fact that Finis is indeed, a man down on his luck.

“I’m gonna moan…I’m gonna moan my blues away…cause my baby’s coming home…she’s coming home to stay.” Things are looking up for Jody Williams as he sings the lead on “Groan My Blues Away.” Times have been tough but happier days are ahead as his woman returns home to stay. We then find Randy Chortkoff telling us about his fine woman in “Mine All Mine.” “She will turn a head…everywhere she goes…she’s my baby…that girl is oh so fine…she’s mine…all mine”. Jody Williams’s passionate guitar work supports his effort to let us know just how tough the road has been on “Young & Tender” and how fortunate he’s become. “A good woman…can’t be bought and she can’t be sold…well I got me just what I wanted…just before I got too old.” His young and tender woman has been a godsend for this bluesman whose traveling days are coming to an end.

“My baby’s a good ‘un…I love her…oh yes I do…I know she’s a good ‘un…she thrills me through and through.” Finis Tasby sounds like one happy man on this rendition of the Otis Rush classic, “My Baby’s a Good ‘Un.” Finis’ luck is Johnny Dyer’s downfall on “Broken Hearted Blues,” the Jimmy Rogers classic tune. “Yes darling…you left me with a broken heart…no one to hold you darling…baby when you cry…yes darling…you left me with a broken heart.” We don’t know why she’s left; we just know that she did.

“Walkin’ Down Fillmore” is the last time that Finis saw his woman before she left him. “Well, you got plenty of money…won’t even throw me a bone.” Finis laments the fact that his baby’s gone but it doesn’t sound like she treated him all that well in the first place. Kirk Fletcher and Kid Ramos exchange guitar solos as Finis comes to grips with the fact that he’s being left behind. “Goodbye woman…I hope I never see you again!” The party comes to a close with Leon Blue singing the Howling Wolf classic, “California Blues.” “California…that’s a place I want to live…I’m going to California…I’m going to live on Beverly Hills!”

Big Plans is the appropriate title for this CD by the Mannish Boys. It took big plans to get everybody together to record a project of this magnitude and the result is a gem. Great vocals, outstanding playing and attention to all the details make this CD a joy to listen to. It’s one I’m sure will find its way back into my CD player before too long.

--- Kyle Deibler


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