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July 1997

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Surprise

Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang
Can't Stop Now
Delmark

Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang - Can't Stop NowEddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang has always been one of my favorite bands. That's why the powerful blues of Can't Stop Now shouldn't really surprise me. But it did.

Their new Delmark album starts strong with "Greedy Man," an uptempo original which kicks off with the first of many blazing sax solos by the leader of the band. Shaw's creative lyrics highlight this number, with lines like "I want a woman to rub my back, a woman to tie my shoes, a woman to rub my head whenever I get the blues."

It's only appropriate that Shaw pay tribute to his former mentor Howlin' Wolf. One of the few covers on Can't Stop Now is Wolf's "Howlin' For My Daughter." Guitarist Eddie Vaan Shaw Jr. wraps some nice fills around Dad's vocals. The younger Shaw is often criticized for being too "rocked out," but here he sounds more like Hubert Sumlin or Willie Johnson.

Shaw is generally considered as one of the top sax players in the blues world. In case there's any doubt, he makes a strong case for that argument on the hot instrumental "Rockin' With Eddie." The guy doesn't miss a note during the entire 2:49 of the song.

The listener gets to take a little trip around the blues capital of the world on Shaw's travelogue "Chicago Man." During the course of the song Shaw mentions places like the Checkerboard Lounge and stops off to eat a Jewtown Polish.

Eddie Shaw's sax, Vaan Shaw's guitar, and blues veteran Detroit Jr.'s piano are all on display on the mid-tempo instrumental "Playing With The Blues," one of the best cuts here.

I'd be remiss in not mentioning the solid rhythm section of longtime Wolf Gang bassist Lafayette "Shorty" Gilbert and drummer Tim Taylor, son of the late Eddie Taylor. They're rock solid.

This band has never completely received the recognition they deserve. Perhaps Can't Stop Now will earn it for them. I'm ready to book them for my next blues festival.

- Bill Mitchell

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