THE BLUEGRASS SPECIAL - Review By: David
“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.
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
NASHVILLE BLUES SOCIETY Review
By Sheryl and Don Crow.
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
- 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
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."
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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."