Johnny Mastro review July 7 2012…

JOHNNY MASTRO AND MAMA’S BOYS

LUKE’S DREAM

RIP CAT RECORDS  RIC 1109

LUKE’S STOMP–THUNDER ROLL–KNEE HIGH–JUNKER’S BLUES–MR JJ’S MAN–HURT–TONIGHT WE RIDE–THE LIGHT–FRANCINE–SPIDER–ROLLER COASTER–MY ROCKET–TEMPERATURE

 

Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys have been heavily involved in the southern California blues scene since the early Nineties, plus, they’ve toured Europe an astonishing twenty-two times!  For their debut for Rip Cat Records, “Luke’s Dream,” they offer up ten originals and three choice covers of a very eclectic nature, indeed.

 

Johnny Mastro is on vocals and harp, Smokehouse Brown is on guitar, Mike Hightower is on bass, and Jim Goodall is on drums.  Special guest guitarists are Kirk Fletcher and Peter Atanasoff, and Max Bangwell adds percussion.  This set was initially intended to be a more traditional-sounding album, and the four acoustic numbers bear that out.  It is the nine electric numbers that take the listener on a musical journey that literally starts as a Delta-fueled dream, runs down thru the Excello-fied swampps of Louisiana, then churns north to Chicago, and finally ends up in a psychedelic place that few other than Hendrix have trod.

 

Sure enough, the set leads off with an acoustic, country-blues tale entitled “Luke’s Stomp,’ based on a dream about the late bluesman Robert Lucas.  “Thunder Roll,” “Knee High,” and “Hurt” all might fall into the category of Alternative Blues, with the use of screaming, fuzzed-out guitars over Johnny’s vocals.  “Tonight We Ride” has an almost gospel-like intro and outro, with a sweet Chicago-styled shuffle sandwiched in between.  And, the set closes with a totally-psychedelic arrangement over the lyrics of Little Walter’s “Temperature” that would make Jimi proud.

 

We had two favorites, too.  The dangers of substance abuse are addressed in “Junker’s Blues,” with Johnny wailin’ away on a big ol’ chromatic.  And, “My Rocket” blasts off like a Saturn V on its way to Mars and holds nothin’ back.

 

Once again, Scott Abeyta of Rip Cat Records has scored with a sharp collection  from one of the pioneer bands of the SoCal scene.  With “Luke’s Dream,” Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys have let their creative juices flow on a powerhouse set of blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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