The Mannish Boys
Shake For Me
I had to hear only the first 30 seconds of The
Mannish Boys' new CD, Shake For Me (Delta
Groove), to realize that I was listening to what
could be the best album of the year. It's been five
years since Randy Chortkoff founded the Delta Groove
label. One of his best moves was the brilliant idea
to team up a host of veteran blues singers with some
of the best session cats around to form The Mannish
Boys. Shake For Me is the fifth CD from the
ensemble; while the others have been good, this one
ascends to new heights.
There's an all-star cast of supporting musicians on
Shake For Me, with names like Nick Curran, Rod
Piazza, Mike Zito, Lynwood Slim, Mitch Kashmar, and
others showing up in the credits. But the show still
belongs to the stalwart vocalists that have been a
regular part of The Mannish Boys' lineup over the
years: Finis Tasby, Bobby Jones, Johnny Dyer, and
now Arthur Adams.
I mentioned having fallen in love with this CD in
the first 30 seconds. Give credit to Curran's
incendiary guitar intro on the album opener, Johnny
"Guitar" Watson"s "Too Tired." He captures all of
the rawness and energy of the original version, with
Tasby keeping the good vibes going with downhome
vocals that provide a nice contrast to Curran's
frenetic guitar work.
Based on the quality of this opening cut, you will
already consider the purchase of this CD as money
But wait! There are 15 more cuts to go!
The intensity level is ratcheted up a few more
notches with the Bo Diddley medley, "Mona / Willie
And The Hand Jive." If the rhythmic drumming and
primal beat of this pairing doesn't get your blood
moving, nothing will. Zito summons the spirit of Bo
with his guitar work, as well as sharing vocals with
The mood changes on the third cut with the more
uptown sound of Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby,"
featuring the charcoal vocals of Tasby and tasteful
guitar playing of Frank "Paris Slim" Goldwasser.
Tasby later returns for the slow, slow blues of
Little Walter's "Last Night," with Piazza blowing
some fierce harp; the pair work very well together.
One of most stirring numbers features Jones' raspy
vocals, accompanied only by pianist Rob Rio, on
Jimmy Oden's "Half Ain't Been Told." This one just
plain oozes the blues. I also really like what Jones
does on Ray Charles' "Hey Now," this time in front
of a full-sounding band; David "Woody" Woodford and
Lee Thornburg do a great job with each covering
multiple horn parts.
Jones later does Howlin' Wolf almost as well as Wolf
himself on "You Can't Be Beat." Kirk Fletcher adds
great fuzzy guitar with Chortkoff coming in with a
Wolf-style harmonica solo. This one's an absolute
There are several smokin' instrumental numbers of
Shake For Me; the one that stands out is "The
Bullet," a high energy romp with Fletcher and Curran
exchanging incendiary guitar solos.
Arthur Adams makes his only appearance on the disc
with his own "Raunchy," on which he smoothly handles
the lead vocals as well as trading guitar duties
There are just too many good cuts here to mention
all of them, but I'd be remiss if I didn't give
props to my old pal Johnny Dyer for his version of
Muddy's mid-tempo blues, "Champagne & Reefer."
Johnny sounds as good as ever, with Kashmar coming
in with just the right amount of harmonica
accompaniment behind the vocals.
Shake For Me gets better every time I listen
to it. It's been a while since I've gotten so much
repeated joy out of a CD. Pick it up so that you can
share the pleasure.
--- Bill Mitchell