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Howard and the White Boys: Made in Chicago (2007)

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Howard and the White Boys: Made in Chicago How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Howard McCullum brings Chicago blues to a worldwide audience. He and the members of his band first met in college at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb back in 1988. They've been living the Chicago blues ever since, making the Windy City their home and serving as ambassadors for their contemporary sound.

While the band's fusion of funk, R&B, and rock with contemporary blues strays pretty far from the pioneering colors of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, they've got the same emotional outpouring and fiery guitar action that has always characterized Chicago blues.

Several selections, such as "Walking to My Baby, come clearly from the blues mainstream. Guitars and keyboards replace harmonica in their lineup, filling the role successfully. McCullum sings convincingly about hot relationships, failed romance, havin' a good time, dedicated love, lonely nights, growing apart, and sad, sad hearts.

Cold Cold Feeling recalls the session's truest and most traditional meaning of the blues, as Howard and the White Boys soak up a mournful aura in a fit of passion. Everyone can relate to their message. With McCullum's poignant vocals and his band's fiery guitar attack, this one hits home.

Black Cat Bone brings back the funk and the dance that we're gonna miss, now that James Brown has passed. McCullum gives this one a fierce texture that burns hot and bright.

Walk Away and "Coming Home both move slowly and sincerely with a country flavor, as Howard and the White Boys take their opportunity to share an original message through their music. The latter, an instrumental number, brings everyone together in a passionate mix of emotion that grows gradually hotter and hotter. Made in Chicago is a clear winner, proving to the world that good blues continues to pique our deepest feelings.

Track Listing: She Loves My Automobile; Walk Away; Good Booty and BBQ; Walking to My Baby; Im in a Phone Booth Baby; Yonder Wall; Cold Cold Feeling; Black Cat Bone; Coming Home.

Personnel: Howard McCullum: vocals, bass; Rocco Calipari: guitar; Pete Galanis: guitar; Jim Bucka Christopulos: drums; Daryl Coutts: keyboards; Dave Friebolin: keyboards.

Record Label: Evidence Music

Style: Blues


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