Album Reviews

Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings – Kingsville Jukin’ (Delmark Records)

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Studebaker John's Maxwell Street KingsMany blues artists are taking their music in a more contemporary-friendly direction, nearly devoid of the scholarly dedication to their deepest heritage seen in past decades. On the other hand, “Studebaker” John Grimaldi is happy going the opposite way. Continuing a debt of gratitude to his beloved, gravel ‘n grit Chicago street-corner boogie, John digs even deeper into the primordial blues ooze for Kingsville Jukin’.

Studebaker John’s specialty is basically an urbanized, rough-necked bastardization of Mississippi Hill Country blues, set to an ice-cool, backstreet attitude.  John and the boys are well-versed in big city blues of all varieties, like the Jimmy Reed shuffle of “When They Played The Real Blues.” However, the cuts with real teeth are the crude slices of frayed-speaker wreckage, like “She’s Alright,” and “I Am The Houserocker,” both of which could have been plucked from some lost, roaring Hound Dog Taylor session over a case of Schlitz. The utilization of gloriously analog relics like 1950’s RCA ribbon mics and Ampex tube tape recorders ensures authenticity.

Other standouts like “Wicked Soul” are instantly trance-like, with an impulsive snare drum monotony opening up a potentially endless jam; a few simple notes inducing the listener’s most primitive shivers of nirvana.

There is perhaps no better champion of the classic, rolling-stoned Maxwell Street beat. Studebaker John shuns the 12-bar norm for one heck of a dirt-under-the-nails good time.

– Mark Uricheck

Read more about Studebaker John’s new album in the next edition of What’d I Say in the November/December issue of Elmore Magazine.

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