Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Lucky Cheats – Sugar in the Tank

After seeing – well, actually, while seeing – the Lucky Cheats the other night, I decided that I needed to have their CD, so bought it off the guys that night. Although pegged as a rockabilly band, these cats are more blues/roots-rock to me, which I can appreciate, since I don’t care for bands that get too pigeon-holed.

“Light That Blinds” opens the set and you know exactly what's in store right from the start. Wailing harp, rockin’ vocals (this time from bassist Luke Metz, but harpist Jeff Koenig shares lead vocal duties), good use of dynamics and a powerful blues-rock groove. This could’ve been something the Butterfield Blues Band did back in the day! This swinging groove continues in guitarist Wade Braggs’ “Heallfire Healing”, where he gets to cut loose a bit and he is a damn fine string wrangler.

They take it down a notch for the slow grind of “Good Thing Gone Bad”, with nice use of minor accent chords and some more sweet soloing. And I’ll be damned if there isn’t almost a Bop-Swing to “The Devil Walks in Tennessee” – along with some hep lyrics (which, as the Prophet Greene, I can certainly appreciate). “Been Told Once” features guest star Shanda Cisneros on vocals, who I am sure is the same terrific singer from the Shandaleers – slightly more straightforward rockabilly here, but hardly formulatic.

Maybe it’s my imagination, but between the harp and the accent beats on “Black Days”, I’m hearing faint recollections of “When the Levee Breaks”, which is cool by me! “It Wasn’t Me’ is a drivin’ soul/rock number that coulda been done by the MG’s or J.Geils and even has a nice Hammond organ sound giving it another dimension. There’s hints of “Harper Valley PTA” in the melody of “Interstate”, though, of course, with their own twists and turns to it and with more of a rockabilly feel and some hot licks by Wade.

“Night Won’t Let Me Rest” is another bluesy number with a surprise (short!) drum solo by Joe Perv, who has since been more-than-ably replaced by Larry Reha. The closer is the monsterously powerful “Can’t Go Home” that slams is all home with a wailin’ bang!

I’m not sure what rockabilly purists would think of this, but if you’re a fan of great blues-rock that’s played by real talents and you’re not afraid to mix it up a bit, be sure to get this and definitely see these cats live – they are a true treat – not a cheat!