RUF RECORDS 1233
LET THE BIG DOG EAT–DON’T LET THEM FOOL YOU–GET YOUR ASS IN THE VAN–DROWNING AT THE BOTTOM–LET’S MAKE LOVE IN THE MORNING–WHAT I LIKE ABOUT MIAMI–EASY DISTANCE–WHERE DID I GO WRONG–WHERE THE DEVIL MAKES HIS DEALS–WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING–SOMEHOW
New York-born and Miami-raised bluesman Albert Castiglia got his first big break playing guitar in Junior Wells’ band in the Nineties. He honed his craft alongside the master, and has five albums of his own on his resume’. On his latest set for Ruf Records, “Big Dog,” Albert makes the record he’s always wanted to make. It’s raw, powerful, punch-in-the-soul blues, and follows Albert’s credo of his live shows of going all in on the bandstand every night.
This one is full of roadhouse boogie shuffles, both original songs and covers, and a few unique cuts that show a more poignant side of Albert. But, the boogie woogie rolls all over this one, starting off with the title cut, as Albert comes out with six strings blazing to “Let The Big Dog Eat!” Fellows, be wary of women with agendas, those who’ll “love you all night long, then do you wrong,” “Don’t Let Them Fool You.” Mike Zito, also the set’s producer, is on second guitar here, and makes it a wall-to-wall scorcher.
Albert gets down to some serious slow blues on the sad story of a lover who turns to alcohol for solace, “Drowning At The Bottom,” written by Luther Allison and James Solberg. Another killer slow blues features harp from Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and piano from Lewis Stephens over Albert’s slashing lead lines and stop-time vocals on “Where Did I Go Wrong.” He closes the set with a socially-conscious cut co-written by Cyril Neville. “Somehow” asks society to take a long look in the mirror when it comes to the plight of the poor and homeless, looking for us all to “spread a little more love seeds.”
We had two favorites, too, both at opposite ends of the Crossroads. First up is Albert’s ode to the road, the Elmore James-inspired slidin’ boogie of “Get Your Ass In The Van,” because playing the blues “ain’t no American Idol.” And, a downright spooky tale co-written by Graham Wood Drout is the story of ole Bloodshot Red, who “sings the blues on Tuesdays in a bar in Mobile,” after goin’ down to that place “Where The Devil Makes His Deals!”
“Big Dog” is perhaps Albert Castiglia’s best, most well-rounded set thus far. He and Zito and the other musicians involved got in that proverbial “zone” and have turned out one sho’ nuff sweet set of contemporary blues! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.