Tommy Castro/Jimmy Hall/Lloyd Jones: Triple Trouble (2003)
Grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and Mona Lisa was a Man...
This trio of leaders steers its way through originals and soul standards. "Sometimes," a Jones original, is 100% barrelhouse with all three singing and Hall's harmonica insinuating itself from the background. Reese Wynans' uncredited roadhouse piano tinkles softly, driving this three minutes of heaven. Jimmy Hall sings his "If That Ain't Love," harp potent and dark. It makes you miss Wet Willie. This is how a blazing session begins.
But okay, I lied. Johnny Winter's "Be Careful with a Fool" is fully a blues. A hot-shit- I'm gonna-sit-in-yo'-lap slow blues.. The very familiar Double Trouble rhythm section which once backed SRV can be so perfect. Tommy Castro cooks everything to a white heat, Tommy Shannon chording on the bass, giving the song that full power-trio sound that Hendrix, Cream and then SRV perfected. Sanctification is what they call it in the church, and Tommy Castro worships at the Temple of Blues. Jimmy Hall supplies as fine a harp solo as one could desire. If Johnny Winter was the quintessential Rolling Stones interpreter, then Tommy Castro is the quintessential interpreter of Johnny Winter.
Up comes the album's big surprise. It takes a pair or uranium balls to cover the Beatles' "Help!" How does it come off? No assistance required. The group thoroughly transforms the song, like Delbert McClinton took John and Paul to a Southern Baptist Church in white East Texas and had Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley over to compose a song for the next Sunday's service. Rather than a mid-sixties British love song, it becomes a Caucasian country blues lamenting the conflict between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
"Whole Lotta Soul" is infused with the spirit of Otis Redding; "Good Good Lovin'" is a James Brown rave up. The Lloyd Jones blues shuffle "Raised in the Country" provides a tastefully greasy guitar solo, warding off the roadhouse, and both guitarists get to take their turn, as if with that willing country cheerleader beneath the bleachers after a small-town football victory. [Ahem. Right. –Ed.] "Mammer Jammer" sounds too much like the J. Geils Band's "Whammer Jammer" for comfort. Instead, it becomes a Sha-Na Na shuffle.
There is no doubt that this is a very fun record. I expected a lot less and was more than surprised at how fine this music is. Rock on.
For more information, see Telarc Blues .
Track Listing: Sometimes; If That Ain't Love; Be Careful With A Fool; Love Will; Help; Whole Lotta Soul; Good Good Lovin'; Raised In The Country; Mammer Jammer; Midnight To Daylight; Cold Funk.
Personnel: Tommy Castro-Vocals, Guitar; Jimmy Hall-Harmonica, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals; Lloyd Jones- Vocals, Guitars; Reese Wynans-Hammond B-S; Tommy Shannon-Bass; Chris Layton--Drums.
Record Label: Telarc Records