I'm always skeptical when I receive a CD from some fresh-faced youngster, figuring that they're all out there trying to become the next Jonny Lang or Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Instead, W-Jones aspires to be more like the Mighty Flyers' Rick Holmstrom. And he does a pretty darn good job of it. Holmstrom is even quoted on the back of the CD saying, "Progression after progression, my jaw dropped to the ground!"
You'll hear the licks to which Holmstrom is referring on the jumpin' instrumental "Batyology, as well as a hot B-3 solo from Pierre Chrétien. Based on the title of this number, I'm assuming that JW has also been influenced by the Nite Cats' guitarist Little Charlie Baty. The title cut is another tasty instrumental, as JW does some intricate chord changes on this hot shuffle.
If you prefer to judge guitar abilities by a slow blues, then take a listen to the extended "Waitin' Around." JW's vocals come across better on this number, and Southside Steve Marriner also gets a chance to show his chops on harmonica.
The Piazza influence really shows up on the blues number "Tryin' So Hard," as JW's vocals are similar to what I would imagine Rod's vocals to sound at the same age. Marriner again gets to come to the front with his George Smith-style harmonica.
Another particular favorite cut is the instrumental "Dizzy Spell," which begins with a steamy, jazzy B-3 intro from Chrétien before JW launches into some hot guitar riffs. The interplay between the two soloists is sweet.
The band cooks up one more tasty instrumental number in "Dino Sammiches & Cornbread," with strong harp from Marriner and more hot guitar from JW.
These kids aren't just a bunch of copycats either, as all songs on Defribillatin' are band originals.
The only part of the album I didn't like was the annoying "Studio Out-Takes," added to the end of the disc. I think it detracts from the rest of the album. Better that the space would have been used for another blazing instrumental. But that's why they invented a Stop button for your CD player.
Now, for my final scouting report. As instrumentalists, all members of the band are already major league quality. JW's vocals still need a little polishing, but there's definite potential for greatness in that area. Something that they can't help right now is that they all look like teenagers instead of grizzled blues veterans ... I can't fault them for that. After all, the average age of the band is around 18. But that's OK, trying to make a living from playing the blues will age them all soon enough.
All in all, this band is off to a great start in the blues world. I look forward to hearing more from them. You can read more about them at the band web site --- www.jw-jones.com.
--- Bill Mitchell
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