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October 2000

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Kid Ramos
West Coast House Party
Evidence Records

Kid Ramos - West Coast House Party

On behalf of Kid Ramos Iíd like to invite you and as many friends as possible to a rollicking West Coast House Party that is being thrown in your honor on your nearest CD player. The dress is casual but make sure your danciní shoes are tied tight, because you might just boogie yourself right out of them. The guitar wizard of The Fabulous T-Birds has given the world another brilliant release with this one, ladies and gentleman. 

Usually when someone throws a party they invite some close friends, acquaintances and co-workers, which is exactly what Mr. Ramos has done. Like last yearís self-titled album, Ramos has assembled a cast of no less than nine different vocalists and seven guitar players (including himself), all of whom are top notch artists turning in stellar performances for this swinging good time. 

This collection is deeply embedded in the California ďjumpĒ blues sound born about 60 some years ago when a transplanted Texan by the name of T-Bone Walker brought the blues guitar into the electric age to stay. 16 tracks of some of the hottest jump-swing blues is what you will find at this house party, starting and ending with instrumental homage being paid to Walker with "Strollin With Bone Parts 1 & 2," highlighted by solos from Gatemouth Brown, Duke Robillard and Ramos. These three also trade licks on "Welcome Blues," a mellow shuffling bop featuring Robillard on vocals. 

Rusty Zinn lends his vocal and guitar prowess to the funky stroll of "Lizabeth," in addition to Amos Milburnís humorous "Silly Dilly Woman." Charlie Baty, of Little Charlie and the Nightcats fame, trades off a couple of hot solos with Kid on "Guitar Player," and joins Mighty Flyer guitarist Rick Holmstrom and Ramos for the Holmstrom penned instrumental "One Bar Short." West coast guitar ace Junior Watson joins Kid for what is essentially the album's grooving title track, "House Party," Fellow Thunderbird Kim Wilson pops in for two tunes. 

The most notable, "Real Gone Lover," has Wilson singing the vocals through his harp mic, giving the tune a frantic retro 50's type of sound backed only by his own harp, a singular guitar and drums. Longtime friend, producer, vocalist and sometimes bandmate Lynwood Slim contributes his stylish hepcat vocals to two numbers, and the sultry sweet vocal stylings of Janiva Magness grace the bouncy beat of "I Need Your Loving." Former boss James Harman is on hand contributing his original swinging dance piece "One Moí Peep." 

The rhythm section for this red hot party is one of the finest ever recorded, and it would be sinful not to mention these fantastic players even though this review is already starting to run as long as War and Peace. Pounding away on the black and whites is the tantalizing Fred Kaplan, the acoustic bass is by the genius of Larry Taylor, and the drums are in the capable hands of drummer elite Stephen Hodges. The fat sound of the horn section, giving so much depth and strength to this recording, is anchored by the growling baritone sax of Jeff Turmes, complemented by two of the hottest tenor men in the business today, Steve Marsh and Jonny Viau. 

Now with all these guest artists sitting in, some of you may wonder if Kid Ramos steps into the spotlight on his own at all. Iíll leave that one for the listeners to discover for themselves, but will say that they won't be disappointed. This party was captured live in the studio over the course of two days by producer Kid Ramos, with most performances being finalized on the first take, giving this album a certain spontaneous edge that I think all other albums done in the same vein will be hard pressed to match or surpass. 

To invite as many of your guitar peers to your party, as Ramos has, takes as much confidence in your abilities as it does respect for those same peers. Every time Kid Ramos steps into a studio to record, he brings together a dream lineup of musicians and vocalists without the fear of possibly being upstaged by one of them, making him one of the most unselfish and classiest artists in the blues today. All of his solo releases, but especially this one, resonate with a certain camaraderie and joy that the listener can hear on every track. 

Itís been awhile since Iíve attended a party that was this much fun. Can't wait for the invitation to the next one! Feel free to dance the night away with one of the best releases of the year.

 --- Steve Hinrichsen

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