Reverend Raven And The Chain-Smoking Altar Boys review…February 22, 2018….

REVEREND RAVEN

AND THE CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR BOYS

TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY

MY LIFE

NEVERMORE RECORDS

HANDYMAN–BEE HIVE BABY–CREATURE OF HABIT–BAD LITTLE GIRLS–I WANT TO LOVE YOU–ONCE THE WOMEN START TALKING–MY LIFE–HERE COMES MY BABY–PRAYING FOR A PRINCESS–BIG BEE–LOOKING FOR LOVE–SLOW BURN–SOMEDAY WHEN I’M DEAD AND GONE–I CAN DO YOU RIGHT–SHE’S MOVING ON–I’M YOUR HONEYBOY

A veritable institution in the Milwaukee area, guitar man Reverend Raven and the Chain-Smoking Altar Boys have also cut a wide swath thru the Midwest, and also deep down in Florida as well.  Armed with a tremendous traditional sound that incorporates vintage jump blues and R & B, along with Chicago and Delta-fired blues, the band celebrates its twentieth anniversary with sixteen of the best cuts from their previous albums, re-worked herein specifically for this occasion.  The result is “My Life,” as Reverend Raven recounts his life as a bluesman over this dance-floor-burnin’ set.

Another one of the blues’ “OG’s,” Raven was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, and has been playing the blues on his guitar since 1971, after seeing Freddie King.  On this set, all his myriad of influences are on display, and all the cuts are heavyweights.  He utilizes four different harp players, all of whom are band veterans, each unique in their approach and sound.

Cadillac Pete is up first, as the Reverend touts his, er, “plumbing skills,”  on the slightly-nasty “Handy Man,” and keeps that groove going on the set-closer, with West Side Andy Linderman on harp, as the Rev. raps to another lover that, “I’m Your Honeyboy, satisfaction guaranteed!”  Benny Rickman is on harp on the swingin’ title cut, as “My Life changed at the age of 43, when I finally met the woman the Good Lord meant for me,” this one with Danny Moore on the 88’s, and the Rev. gittin’ down on some fine Elmore James-inspired guitar.

Favorites were aplenty, and we settled on two.  All that’s missing from that little “Bee Hive Baby” are those fishnet hose–cut kinda low at the top, and high at the bottom, ya know.  And, “Once The Women Start Talking” no man is safe!  Benny’s playin’ it cool on the harp, and the whole thing rides that rhumba beat for all it’s worth!

Twenty years in this bidness is a milestone, indeed.  Picking only sixteen cuts was arguably tough to do, but Reverend Raven And The Chain Smoking Altar Boys and “My Life” effectively traces the history of one of the Midwest’s , er, “smokin-est” blues bands ever to lay down a groove!  Roll back the rug, and dance your ass off until….next time!   Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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