Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rick Estrin and the Nightcats

Rick Estrin
& The Nightcats
Alligator Records

He's baaack! Seems just yesterday that I plugged Rick Estrin's On The Harp Side and his DVD just before that and now he's back with a new Alligator release with his version of the Nightcats. Twisted. Now that title perfectly fits Estrin's personality.This new Nightcats' recording adheres more or less to the old Nightcats' formula--instead of Charlie Baty leading the guitar charge and shining on jazzy or swinging instrumentals, Kid Andersen turns loose his different flavored chops. Where On The Harp Side was an Estrin vehicle, Twisted does the ensemble band thang that we've grown to love about a Nightcats' release. Estrin's still front and center as always, but he certainly allows Andersen to stretch out and put the pedal to the metal on occasion--such as on his instrumental, Earthquake where Kid approximates what Freddy King might have sounded like on meth. Rockabumping stuff, indeed. Oh, and Estrin gets the shaking going right along with him.

Estrin's witty lyrical behavior lives up to his reputation as an astute observer of real life stories, siphoned through his wise ass demeanor. The opener Big Time takes off where his last CD left off--with some nasty, honking Estrin licks. The amped up tone sounds very similar to what he squeezed out on the solo release. He aims his message at those folks who think that they are 'big time' and basically tells 'em to get out of his face with the attitude. The tune rocks. No, really. Kind of an old time rock and roll vibe kicks things off right.

Back From The Dead answers the song he wrote called Circling The Drain from that great, last Nightcats' CD, Nine Lives. That tune had Estrin ready to throw in the towel, this one has him saying that even though some may have thought that he did---well, he's got news for them because he's back from the dead despite the laundry list of reasons he offers why he should have croaked by now. Hilarious stuff and with the Kid slinging hash with his guitar, I think it should be on every Top 40 play list. Riiight.

UBU is another about minding your own damn business as he says "Let me be me and you be you" on this driving shuffle and Catching Hell is about, well, catching hell and slows the pace down with Kid showing off what he can really do with blues licks. P.A. Slim Is Back jumps the boogie with Estrin's harp leading into a tale about a cool daddy hitting town again after fleeing cold Chicago winters.

And so it goes and if you know Estrin like I know Estrin and his work with the Nightcats, then you know what the rest of the program is all about. He does keep his harp stuck to his mouth throughout the proceedings a little more so than on a typical Little Charlie and the Nightcaps release and he sucks the tonal variety out of the instrument, as usual, to keep things sounding fresh. He does the sweet and low chromatic thing on the Cool Breeze instrumental, gets his exquisite Sonny Boy II style going on You Can't Come Back, and displays some original acoustic licks during the brooding, Someone, Somewhere (which also showcases the Kid's acoustic flair).

The rhythm section of J Hansen (drums) and Lorenzo Farrell (bass) rode along on Estrin's solo release and they prove adept at swinging the variety of rhythmic changes thrown at them--or hell, maybe it is they who set the vibes. Regardless, they prove to be quite the groove monkeys. Hansen is turned loose on rough-hewn vocals on his own, I'm Taking Out My In-Laws, which is right up the Nightcats' alley.

Can't say enough about Kid Andersen, though. This ex-Norwegian seems to pretty much play "in-the-moment", sort of like a twisted Hubert Sumlin might or Junior Watson and it ain't no telling where he's coming from, going, or ending up. Darned unpredictable. Then, again, so is Estrin--even when you think you know what he's all about, he'll pull his own stunts with a harp in his mouth. He plays outside of himself everytime he takes a solo and way outside of what a wealth of other harp can achieve. Hurray for this one!

Anyway---This may be my last post for awhile. I'm going to try like the dickens to finish typing my novel before leaving for a Grand Canyon/Bryce Canyon trip June 14-23, which should be a great ride. I'll see if I can stick something up here before pulling up stakes and heading that direction.


Joe's Blues Blog said...

Yes! I will testify that P.A. Slim is back. I just saw him a couple of weeks ago. He's a nice guy with a pretty cool sound.

Kid Andersen is great, too. I shot the photos for his Greaseland CD. Fantastic player and a fine human being.

Ricky Bush said...

Hey Joe--

That's pretty cool. So, P.A. Slim isn't a figment of Rick's imagination. Also, I noticed that the Kid & Estrin produced and recorded at Greaseland studios--cant' beat a smooth name like that. Anyway--

Cicily Janus said...

I'll totally check this out. Thanks! And thanks for reading my blog too!



Ricky Bush said...

You'll like Rick Estrin, Cicily. It's hard not to and good luck with the jazz book. Anyway--

Joe's Blues Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe's Blues Blog said...

Here is a link to a photo of P.A. Slim

Ricky Bush said...

Hey Joe--

Oh, yeah! Definitely the Cool Daddy Rabbitt that Rick sang about. Anyway--