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I went completely nuts over Rick Holmstrom's boogie-woogie version of "Sleigh Ride" on Black Top's Christmas compilation, so I finally went out and purchased his solo CD over the holidays. Man, am I glad I did! This is a rollicking instrumental album with a retro '50s feel. Lookout! is a completely infectious West Coast blues CD with just the right doses of rock 'n roll and swing to kick things up a few notches.
Holmstrom recorded Lookout! in 1995 after he became lead guitarist for Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. Six of its 16 tracks were previously released on CDs by harmonica man Johnny Dyer, while the rest feature players from Piazza's band.
Credit Holmstrom for underproducing this CD. I'm no sound expert, but there's a raw spontaneity here that differs greatly from the overly slick blues recordings I've been hearing of late. Also credit Holmstrom for keeping the tunes brief, something almost nobody does these days. With the CD's natural feel and concise solos, Holmstrom has taken the very best elements from 1950s blues and made them his own.
Lookout! is great fun. There's barrelhouse boogie ("North of Montana"), Lightin' Hopkins-style guitar licks ("Rub It"), sock-hop rockers ("Hit It"), Latin-tinged blues ("Tacos de Pescado"), ballads ("Maria Cecile"), and Earl Hooker-like guitar-organ groovers ("A Good One"). There's not a weak track on this CD.
With Lookout! Rick "LA. Holmes" Holmstrom joins such guitar luminaries as Ronnie Earl and Freddy King in generating a truly great blues instrumental recording. I hear there's another Holmstrom release on the way, and I shall await it with bated breath.