Great Review from BLURT.COM!!!!
Every now and then a CD comes along that is just so much fun that you have to keep playing it over and over. Such is the case with One Wrong Turn by Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. In terms of sheer fun, few albums can beat this one. This is one of the best albums of 2012.
For more than 30 years Estrin fronted and played harp on the San Francisco Bay Area Band, Little Charlie and the Nightcats. They did 10 albums for Alligator Records. Then in 2008, Charlie Baty retired from the nonstop gruel of the road. So Estrin, drummer J. Hansen and bass player Lorenzo Farrell decided to keep the band going and added guitar player extraordinaire Kid Andersen, who shares the co-producing duties with Estrin on this album. One Wrong Turn is their second album as Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. This is one of the tightest and most original groups working today.
And yes, they are blues but genre hopping blues. Estrin wrote or co-wrote nine of the 12 songs and you can see in his writing the musical influence of everybody from Cab Calloway to Louis Jordan to the early rock of Leiber and Stoller. And holding it all down is his incredible fat harp sound that might be a mixture of Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) on some sort of super steroids. You hear the eclectic nature of this band on the first track–“D.O.G”– which leads off with an explosive harp blast and then settles in with a rumba groove.
You can’t appreciate this band without also digging the persona Estrin has created. A true showman, he looks like a post-World War II Los Angeles hipster with the coifed hair, pencil thin moustache, super sharp suit and Blues Brothers shades. And he is truly one of the best and funniest lyric writers working in American music today. From “D.O.G” which takes on guys who think they are players with the ladies to the hilarious “(I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise” which offers a revealing look at what happens below deck, Estrin is something of a throwback as a writer. He tells a story and makes it so interesting that you actually listen to the lyrics. And on top of it all are his soulful vocals.
But the band is dead serious when it comes to great blues songs like “Broke and Lonesome”– with great guitar work from Andersen–and “Old News” where Estrin again shines on harp. Norway born Andersen turns this into a world class band. Andersen released four solo albums before joining the legendary harp player, Charlie Musselwhite, in 2004. He stayed with Musselwhite until Estrin came calling.
On One Wrong Turn Andersen contributes one of the best songs of the year, the instrumental “The Legend of Taco Cobbler.” This nearly seven minute guitar masterpiece can only be described as a musical spaghetti western meets surf music meets Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” meets techno pop. Again, it is a song you have to listen to again and again.
Even the cover art of the CD is terrific with a modernistic 1950’s or 1960’s design that might have graced a Hitchcock or 007 movie poster.
The Nightcats made a great decision to carry on after Charlie Baty retired. Baty was a great guitar player in his own right, but the Nightcats have shown they are still at the top of their game and just getting better with age. One Wrong Turn is the real deal. An all-around great CD.
DOWNLOAD: “(I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise,” “Old News,” “Lucky You,” “The Legend of Taco Cobbler” TOM CALLAHAN
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