Time to catch up on some reviews. This CD Roundup is a “European Special” devoted to recent releases by Italy’s Dany Franchi, Belgium’s Shakedown Tim & The Rhythm Revue and a pair of Finnish acts: Dr. Helander & Third Ward and Jarkka Rissanen Tonal Box. American blues vets Charlie Musselwhite, Anson Funderburgh, James Harman and Gene Taylor make important contributions to these albums. Cheers to transatlantic friendships!
SHAKEDOWN TIM & THE RHYTHM REVUE
Rhythm Bomb Records
This 2018 release on Germany’s Rhythm Bomb Records is another fine example of transatlantic cross-pollination. It pairs Tim Ielegems – a skilled old-school guitarist and bandleader from Belgium who names Pee Wee Crayton and Junior Watson as key influences – with Alabama-born harp veteran “Icepick” James Harman. Ielegems invited Harman to produce the record after a stint in his band. Once Harman had signed on to the project, they called in piano stalwart Gene Taylor (Blasters, Fabulous Thunderbirds) to play on six of the album’s even dozen cuts. So what you’ve got here is a pair of seasoned American pros joining forces with a much younger group of Belgian players. The result is a high-spirited mix of mostly up-tempo Westcoast-flavored blues and rock’n’roll. The instrumental “Icepick’s Shakedown Th’owdown,” featuring solos by Harman, Ielegems and baritone sax player Bart Stone, embodies the album’s freewheeling energy. The band excels on the swaying rhythm of “Junior’s Mambo” while “Rollin’ On” is highlighted by Ielegems’ tight, angular guitar figures, some glorious sax from Stone and the heavy hitting of drummer Dennis de Gier. The moody, late-night blues of “No More Fightin'” and a faithful interpretation of Crayton’s signature tune “Blues After Hours” round out a strong disc showing that Shakedown Tim and his buddies can hang with the best of them. – VA
SONG PICK: “Junior’s Mambo”