Blues artists Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery are turning out to be one of the better pairings coming out of the Telarc Blues stables. Independently, the two artists deliver their own unique brand of guitar-based blues, soul, and R&B. Together, Benoit and Thackery meld the disparate elements of their styles into a corrosively unified vision. Not bad Mojo for two white guys playing the blues in the 21st Century.
In their 2002 studio release, Whiskey Store , both men drew from their respective band books, isolating the best they had to offer and presenting their selections first to each other and then to us listeners. The result was a very productive collaboration that rocked from beginning to end. Several of the songs are reprised on the new Whiskey Store Live, their electric life infused with weapons-grade plutonium.
I was at first disappointed that this set did not include Tab Benoit’s exquisite slow blues "Nice and Warm," from Benoit’s Justice Recording by the same name and also included on Whiskey Store. But that was no matter, because the opening notes of Jimmy Thackery’s "Freddie’s Combo" blew back my hair and singed my eyebrows. The song is propelled by the dual guitar-saxophone front that sounds closer to a jump blues big band than a blues septet. Benoit’s "I Got Loaded" added just enough of that Creole spice to shift the bus into high gear and prepare the crowd for Thackery’s merciless take on the Minnesota Bard’s "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat."
All of the previous songs were merely building up to the guitar orgy of the disc, the mass-murdering Benoit composition, "Bone Pickin’," where both guitarists stretch out and burn. Percy Mayfield’s "Strange Things Happen" and Otis Redding’s "These Arms of Mine" are played with blues power and soulful grace and also provide healthy ground for guitar improvisation.
The disc ends with nine minutes of the molten slab o' blues that gives title to the collection. Both Benoit and Thackery show off. In a period where all popular music is anti-guitar god, it is nice to know that giants still walk among us.
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