This collection of ‘60s-inspired blues tracks is not strictly necessary, but is very enjoyable.
Label: Zoho Roots
Time: 13 tracks / 65 minutes
It’s easy to hear where Powers’ strongest influences came from. This disc calls out, “1960s!” from nearly every track. Whether it is the boogie-based jams, covers like “I Ain’t Superstitious” and “Shake Your Moneymaker” or the pre-historic organ tone on the title track, Powers seems to have acquired his passion 50 years ago and been honing it ever since.
While this set is never going to win awards for staggering re-interpretations, Powers can certainly get a fair range of sounds for his blues. He is like upbeat Santana in his rhythm playing on “I Miss Your Kissin’;” Muddy Waters’ “Honeybee” catches him in a Roy Buchanan frame of mind; and he keeps Hendrix’s original feel on “Spanish Castle Magic.”
Powers’ parents owned a restaurant in New Jersey, exposing him to English sailors who would trade their British blues records with him in exchange for Motown singles. He had his first guitar aged seven and started The Apple Core Band in his teens. They opened for harmonica virtuoso James Cotton and Springsteen’s early band “Steel Mill.”
His next band Moonbeam opened for names like Bo Diddley and James Brown and this is when he started to garner award nominations.
His career has led to this album, rich in sonic warmth and with a wealth of guitar tones. They don’t come much better than on “Honeybee,” where he packs some emotional punch into a ringing top end, dipping down to the lower register for a few raunchy bursts, and later gets his guitar playing in unison with his singing.
There are three instrumentals on this disc. “Uprising” is the strongest, its torque having some real pulling power. The title track is a light, playful boogie that goes on for six and a half minutes. It feels a bit like a bonus track, but the actual bonus is the wordless version of “Got’s to Go”.
He has brought in players who work with names like Les Paul, Michael Jackson and Dizzy Gillespie. Particularly effective here is Angel Rose, who sings unison on the radio-friendly “Lookin’ for the Truth” and who lights up “It’s about that Time” with her lead vocal. From the grittiness in her tone, you would not guess that she is also a jazz and opera singer.
There is nothing here as revolutionary as the title suggests, but there is plenty of boogie – and fabulously played.