YELLOW DOG RECORDS YDR 2265
BIG EASY WOMEN–CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME–YOU’D HAVE TO BE OUT OF YOUR MIND (TO PLAY THESE BLUES)–SOUTHBOUND STROLL–YOU BUSY BEAVER, YOU–YANA ARRIVES (THEME)–SHE’S SO IMAGINARY–LAISSE TOMBER LES FILLES–MIRZA–NE T’EN VAS PAS–CHEZ LES YE-YE–YANA DEPARTS (THEME)–THE SWINGER GOES STRAIGHT–NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS–SUMMER FINALLY CAME–LIFE IS SUCH FUN, AND THEN SEEMS TO DISAPPEAR
In 2013, The Claudettes were Chicago piano-pounder Johnny Iguana and drummer Michael Caskey, who released the highly-acclaimed instrumental album, “Infernal Piano Plot…Hatched,” in which we compared their piano-and-drum works to “Little Richard on speed backed by a jug of good Tennessee corn likker.” Their second set for Yellow Dog Records branches out in a big way. It’s titled “No Hotel,” and over the course of sixteen cuts, there’s more of the band’s trademark bombast and all the good ole nasty noise that two guys can make. And, adding to the fun and frivolities, they proudly introduce 24-year-old Nigerian-American singer/dancer Yana, who regales us with five tunes, one sung in English, the rest in French, all done up cabaret-style.
The boys kick off with a blistering, piano-bashing “Big Easy Women,” which morphs into the perfect soundtrack for a Saturday morning B-movie, where the hero rushes to save the damsel tied to the tracks! “You Busy Beaver,You” tips its hat to the Peanuts gang withy some jazzy, Guaraldi-like licks, while a couple of “show tunes” get a royal treatment. “No Business Like Show Business” has a campy, Fifties feel, while “California, Here I Come” is presented in a brooding, stormy, minor-key arrangement.
Yana’s contributions fit perfectly within the mood of the set. “She’s So Imaginary” recalls Seventies-era Carole King, while the French songs are sexy, sultry fun with a hint of mid-80’s Madonna.
Our favorite was easy. The guys get in a sweet, slow-boogie blues groove with “The Swinger Went Straight,” with Johnny’s mighty left hand carrying the day.
Johnny Iguana and Michael Caskey continue to be the “Colin Clives of the hipster set,” as they’ve created a monster that chews up blues, jazz, boogie-woogie and anything else in its path and spits it out as something completely different that’s guaranteed to satisfy!! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.