Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave

I know how hard it is to keep putting out quality material and many incredible bands have had pitfalls after a debut that grabs people's attention, but this, Black Joe Lewis' third album, sounds even better than the first two! This adds more raw, punk'n'roll power to this electrifying soul dynamo to create a wild-edged masterstroke that builds on their earlier work (apparently, this is still the Honey Bears, though the name isn't on the CD) and takes it to the next rockin' level.

Electric Slave opens with a heavy, heavy, fuzzed-out garage punker, appropriately titled "Skulldiggin'", that includes some fine piano poundin' along with an incredibly nasty guitar solo! This is an amazing blend of bands like Thee Hypnotics, the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, but somehow keeping a bit of Lewis' soul identity in the mix (though that aspect is a bit buried here). Their "Young Girls" is a frantic romp in an early r'n'r/r'n'b groove, but with a punk pace making ya want to flail about uncontrollably!

I had to look this up, but "Dar es Salaam" is a city in Tanzania and literally means "the abode of peace". Not sure what Joe is singing about here, but the sound is more traditional Honey Bears territory - more soul/r'n'b and less raw power, but no less great, with a superb horn section augmenting the proceedings and the distorted guitar just a little more buried. Another cool mash-up of styles is "My Blood Ain't Runnin' Right" which has some Sly and the Family Stone touches with some melodies reminiscent of the Saints, when they used horns. Sounds odd, but as they make this their own, they build it into a wildly intense monster.

The sax in "Guilty" wails like McKay in Funhouse or Rudi Thompson from X-Ray Spex, with equivalent power from the rest of the band, while "Come to My Party" is a bit more traditional funk/soul and a groovin' dance number. They finally slow things down for the sultry "Vampire", with a feel not unlike "Fever" until it speeds into an out-of-control rave-up in which the drummer seems to be challenging the rest to keep up! "Make Dat Money" is a bit of a mid-tempo soul/blues riffer with some cool horn dynamics while "The Hipster" is these cats updating "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" and there ain't nothing wrong with that kind of high energy r'n'b! More rockin' funk in "Golem" and the whole she-bang closes with the maximum punk'n'soul of "Mammas Queen".

I love the first two Black Joe Lewis records, but I swear that this one surpasses them both! Great job!