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THE BLUEGRASS SPECIAL - Review By: David McGee - “Got my own way/and it works just fine.” So growls Big Shanty amid the greasy funk blues of “Stop Pushing Me,” second cut on the first of this two-disc, 19-song overview of his impressive musical endeavors. Well, it has indeed worked out just fine for the big man since he stormed into the blues world with 2004’s World of Trouble and has continued marching on like Sherman to the sea, adopting a strictly scorched earth policy as he goes. A triple-threat writer/singer/slide guitarist, Shanty attacks most of his songs with impunity and a foul disposition, because this is serious business indeed. You can tell that much from the howling slide sorties and in-your-face vocal report to a wayward woman marking his punishing, Hendrix-like “They Say It’s Raining” (disc one). He may turn down the heat a bit on something such as “Got a Hold On Me,” in which both his dark, ominous voice and spacey guitar evoke the specter of the Doors at their finest; and on “World of Trouble,” he goes deep into the heart of a broken-hearted melody of a blues ballad, his voice full of the pain of betrayal, his stinging guitar adding a second, aggrieved voice to his own. He prefers, however, to get off simmer quickly and unequivocally. Disc one shows what he has done with mostly a basic band behind him—the occasional horn section or synth will show up—and thus showcases the variety of blues and blues-inflected styles over which he exercises complete dominion. A special treat in this set is the fevered, pumping, ‘50s-style musical orgy he engages in on a saucy, braggadocio-filled come-on, “Right Combination,” a crispy live track that gets some added oomph courtesy Phil Davis’s rollicking keyboards, Rick Phillips’s rumbling bass sax and a tart, electrifying Eddie Jett guitar solo complementing Big Shanty’s feisty vocal. 
big shanty
Disc two’s ten cuts feature Big Shanty’s combo joined by an array of special guests, including Wet Willie bassist Jack Hall (who enters the fray on the intense, unsparing title track from 2007’s Ride With the Wind, a relentless, multi-textured assault driven in part by Big Shanty’s rarely heard fingerpicked acoustic blues guitar, with Eddie Jett taking the electric guitar lead for a couple of searing solos en route); Hydra guitarist Spencer Kirkpatrick on a couple of cuts (including the sputtering, funkified southern soul delight, “Kiss the Eight Ball,” and the hard charging, party-hearty invite to sensual delights, “Love Train,” on which Kirkpatrick steps up for an energized, soaring solo about halfway through); the estimable and indefatigable Col. Bruce Hampton, adding out-there electric steel atmospherics to the grinding “Living On the Edge of Time”; and, on seven of the 10 cuts, Liz Melendez, doing honors both as guitarist and soul shouter vocalist—her heavy metal thunder on “Uncle Sam Go To Rehab” is all wondrous, brutal beauty defining a topical screed of Big Shanty’s directed at political corruption and government waste (this disc opens with another topical entry, the anti-war screed, “Killing Fields,” an occasion for Melendez to announce herself with wailing, electric protests), and on the aforementioned “Kiss the Eight Ball,” her multitracked backing chorus brings a Bonnie Bramlett soul strut to the proceedings.

The simple title of this release is telling: “greatest hits” has no relevance in Big Shanty’s world; “His Best” would be only partly correct, since more than two discs would be needed to support such a title. No, Collection is good. It’s not limiting, it’s not hyperbolic, it’s even understated. The better to lay you flat out when you get steamrolled by the contents herein. Watch out—there’s more to come. Big Shanty’s at large.—
David McGee
NASHVILLE BLUES SOCIETY Review By Sheryl and Don Crow.
B
luesman Big Shanty burst onto the scene with his 2007 release, "Ride With The Wind." With no major corporate sponsorship and nothing but word-of-mouth and internet buzz to generate interest, he has amassed sales of over one million downloads of his material through his indie label website, kingmojo.com. He's back with his latest offering, "Collection," a two-CD powerhouse consisting of fourteen studio tracks and five red-hot live tracks reissued just for this release.
  
Big Shanty is in a category all his own, and is indeed an enigma of sorts, but remains true to the blues in every sense of the word. Some pundits refer to his style as "death metal blues" or "heavy metal funk." And, while it's true that he does lay down a mean array of buzzing guitar and a rain of sonic techno-blues, he does so with a verve and raw passion that is rare among today's players. His love for the blues has brought out some fine guest stars on this set, including the legendary Col. Bruce Hampton and former Wet Willie bassist Jack Hall.
  
The freedom one gets from riding a motorcycle is the theme of the set-closing "Ride With The Wind," from his aforementioned debut, while the leadoff cut "Whisky Woman," is a tribute to bikers, their babes, and the late Jim Morrison. An eerie guitar riff opens "The New Messiah," a sly look at some TV evangelists and their real agendas, which also features a fine gospel backing chorus. The live tracks, recorded at the House Of Jam, include a smokin' piano-and-sax-driven "Right Combination," and a nine-minute Allman-ish jam entitled "Smoke And Mirrors." 
  
We had two favorites, too. Big Shanty has always had his finger on the pulse of today's society, and "Killing Fields" hits home hard with its anti-war sentiment and lyrics that beg the question "When will we ever learn" that war is not the answer. And, Shanty gets in a sly parting shot to the Bush years with "Uncle Sam Go To Rehab," and its lyrics, "Uncle Sam you were a friend of mine, until you got hooked on that crude oil line." Shanty's snarling vocal and searing slide drives this one home with the power of a right cross to the chin.
  
Big Shanty is a bluesman for those who want more than three chords and a cloud of dust with their blues. He's got a great contemporary sound with hard-hitting socially-explicit lyrics that characterize the cuts on "Collection," a set not to be missed!! Until next time....Sheryl and Don Crow.

GUITAR INSTRUCTOR.COM - by 
Michael Mueller - "Collection"Big Shanty   - With his fuzz-drenched, exploding-out-of-your-speakers sound, Big Shanty has been labeled by some as "death metal blues." The analogy may be a bit overstated, but this 19-song 2-CD set is certainly more akin to Jimi Hendrix than it is to Muddy Waters. Visit KingMojo.com for more info.
  
DOWNBEAT MAGZINE:
 "Guitarist Big Shanty's great thrill is to fire up blues in a riotous manner that bolsters old-school Southern blues-rock with jam-band hell-raising and acid-tossed-in-your-face techno blues.
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CRAWDADDY MAGAZINE:
 
"Big Shanty comes on like a rip snortin’, fire breathin’ son of a swamp dog with whiskey breath harsh enough to blister the chrome on a Harley."

NODEPRESSION.COM: "Big Shanty's 2007 disc Ride With The Wind seemingly fell out of the blues blue, gaining street cred when Real Blues magazine named the release its "#1 Blues Album of the Year."
Exclaim, Toronto Canada Review By Kerry Doole
S
outhern blues rockers Big Shanty is something of a cult hero on the alternative blues scene. Five independent albums have reportedly generated a million downloads, and look for his profile to get a boost with this damn fine double CD, 19-song set of his best material. This is dirty, gritty, fiery stuff that some have called "death metal blues" or "heavy metal funk." It's about as subtle as a demolition derby, but Shanty's gruff vocals and raunchy slide guitar deliver the goods consistently. Alternating lead guitarists Dave Hanbury, Chris Blackwell, Liz Melendez, Spencer Kirkpatrick (Hydra) and Eddie Jett all fuel the fire, while cameos are taken by Southern rock heroes Jack Hall (Wet Willie) and Col. Bruce Hampton. Along with classic motor biking tunes like "Whisky Woman" and "Ride Like the Wind," there's a refreshingly subversive tone to the lyrics of "Uncle Sam Go to Rehab" and "Killing Fields," which adds to the appeal. Female backing vocals from Melendez boost the funk on "Kiss the Eight Ball" and "Love Train," and even usually annoying synth horns are used effectively. This goes well with moonshine and ribs at your next BBQ. Crank up high and ignore the neighbours.
(King Mojo)
 
 
Blues In The Digital Age
 by David W. King - Big Shanty’s sonic rain of acid guitars and incendiary beats has captivated fans all over the globe in search of something outside the blues/rock mainstream, and the tracks on Collection deliver that in spades. By word of mouth and the internet, the buzz about Big Shanty has spread world-wide, with fans registering over one million downloads from his indie label website, www.kingmojo.com. Big Shanty has successfully navigated through the music business maze without the benefit of big corporate radio, corporate media sponsorship slick videos or any of the trappings in the star-making machinery of the music business.

TOP-40 CHARTS.com 
- New York, NY (Top40 Charts/ Mark Pucci Media) - King Mojo Records announces a February 8 release for Collection, a 2-CD compilation of tracks from Big Shanty, whose blistering sound has been described as everything from "death metal blues" to "heavy metal funk." The double-disc set also includes five previously out-of-print live tracks. Many of Big Shanty's longtime friends join in the jams on Collection, including Wet Willie bassist Jack Hall; guitarist Spencer Kirkpatrick, formerly of Hydra; up-and-coming guitar hotshot Liz Melendez; and legendary jam-band godfather, Col. Bruce Hampton.
  
BLUES CRITIC:
 "Hendrix-like vocals by Shanty is Blues at heart "Born Up In Trouble" may be the "Born Under A Bad Sign" of our day."
   
REAL BLUES MAGAZINE: "Big Shanty paints visual pictures with his songs and he’s almost without competition in that sense. “Killing Fields” is a powerful condemnation of old lies and self-serving propaganda, delivered with raw emotion and a driving beat. A more powerful anti-War tune does not exist! And, the music is as powerful as the uncompromising lyrics. “Living On The Edge” is a Masterpiece tune closing out a Masterpiece album.

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MODERN GUITARS MAGAZINE: "It’s nice when a sound comes along that really catches the ear and takes control of the senses with a magnetic, wrenching tug. The experience doesn't happen all that often, but when it does it’s authentic and infectious."