Mighty Mike Schermer
Vizztone / Finedog
There's something I just plain like about the
music of northern California guitarist / singer
/ songwriter Mighty Mike Schermer.
Actually, there's a lot to like about him: his
very tasteful guitar playing, creative
songwriting, and easy, laidback vocal style.
Schermer puts it all together on his latest
album, Bad Tattoo. It also helps that
he's put together an impressive array of
musicians to back him on the album's dozen cuts,
with the sessions being recorded at Kid
Andersen's now-legendary Greaseland studio.
One can't help but feel sorry for Schermer on
the first number, the up-tempo blues "She Won't
Be Coming Back." He wakes up to find out that
his woman is gone and took everything he had.
"... I talked to her last night and everything
was cool, the minute I turned my back she ran
off with some other fool, she's gone, I still
love her, but she won't be coming back ..."
There's some really nice horn work here from
Eric Bernhardt and Nancy Wright, along with
organ from Austin Delone and polyrhythmic
drumming from Paul Revelli.
Schermer piques my interest with the
baseball-themed "Lover's Hall Of Fame," citing
various relevant hardball references throughout
the song. The song starts with Schermer yelling
out, "Play Ball!" over top of a funky beat with
wah wah effects on the guitar before proceeding
to say that his baby won't get consideration for
his lover's hall of fame. Of course he knows
he's no superstar himself, singing, "... They
won't put me in Cooperstown, but I'm proud of
the the things that I done, at least I struck
out swinging, looking for the home run ..."
I love the sound of the farfissa organ, an
instrument not used enough in the blues world,
but Delone pounds away on the keys on the
up-tempo "How Much Longer?," with Schermer
tossing in some solid rockin' guitar. "I Can't
Let It Go" is a mid-tempo snaky blues that
features Billy Price and L'il Baby on background
The title cut comes up next, and it's one of the
highlights of the disc with a creative original
song that will have a lot of listeners nodding
their head in sympathy to Mighty Mike's plight.
As for that bad tattoo that his baby has in a
key spot, Schermer sings, "... she's got the
name of some other dude in a bad tattoo ...,"
and "... what would make a hottie do something
to her body that couldn't stand the test of time
..." There's some hot guitar here from Mighty
Mike as well as a stellar baritone sax solo by
"Ain't That The Way Love Goes?" is a nice,
mid-tempo shuffle with Chris Cain on electric
piano(!) and co-producer Andersen providing the
bass backbeat. L'il Baby returns to contribute
backing vocals along with Andersen. Organist Jim
Pugh lays down a solid foundation for the
up-tempo feelgood number "One Thing Every Day,"
with gospel-ish backing vocals, this time from
both L'il Baby and Bernhardt. Schermer pays
tribute to his woman on the rockin' shuffle,
"Hey Francine!," with some killer Link
Wrap-style guitar and a fine organ solo from
Delone. Schermer is definitely not looking for a
long-term relationship when he sings, "... who
needs tomorrow when all we need is today ..."
Aki Kumar guests on harmonica behind Schermer's
echo-y vocals on the plodding blues, "Baby Down
The Well," before moving on to the bluesy funk
of "Suffocating Love." Cain joins in on his more
normal instrument to share guitar duties with
Schermer. "Stop Looking For Love" is a slow
blues shuffle that wouldn't sound out of place
on a '60s Excello Records compilation, with Rick
Estrin summoning his inner Lazy Lester on
Bad Tattoo closes with a song that would
be an appropriate "end of the set" type of song,
the up-tempo "Up All Night." Schermer and his
companion are heading out to an all-night blues
club to "... party like it's 1979 ...," but
that's okay because they can sleep all the next
I've previously described Schermer's music as
just plain ol' good fun, and Bad Tattoo
is no exception. It's a good addition to his
--- Bill Mitchell