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Fighting Fire With Gasoline

The Kokomo Kings

Rhythm Bomb

Fighting fire with fire, or in this instance gasoline, is all in a day’s work if you’re The Kokomo Kings. Made up of a contingent of Swedish and Danish musicians, The Kokomo Kings has been delivering its raw authentic blues sound for a few years now. Having established a healthy fanbase throughout Europe after several years performing at numerous bars and clubs on the rockin’ circuit, The Kokomo Kings make a fresh return with album number three ‘Fighting Fire With Gasoline’. With the band now consisting of members Ronni Busack-Boysen (guitar/maracas), Daniel Winerö (drums), Martin Abrahamsson (vocals/guitar) and Magnus Lanshammar (bass/guitar), having seen the departure of founding member Harmonica Sam, The Kokomo Kings has certainly not discarded its winning formula of raw energised blues. With all songs written by Magnus Lanshammar who has a way with words with interesting alternatives to the male – female dynamics of relationships by providing considerable thought via the likes of ‘Tied To The Tracks’ where the male central figure is at the mercy of his beloved sweetheart, or simply out of luck during ‘The Fish Won’t Bite’ and ‘The Rich Man’s Pocket’. The song writing also knows when to have fun such as ‘A Big Pile of Fish’, which bathes in a shimmering blues boogie and something The Rolling Stones would be proud to claim as their own composition such are the similarities. But with the album kicking off on a more familiar raw and rockin’ blues note – ‘The More I Get, The More I Want’ – that states its intentions judging by the forcefulness of its rhythm, The Kokomo Kings weave a heady spell here that continues in similar vein via ‘Tornadohead’ and ‘I Thought I Was A Patient Man’. In fact, it’s this last track referenced here that gives way to the pensive nature of the majority of the lyrics that is worrying about its present as well as its future, and this is something that sets The Kokomo Kings apart from its rivals by some considerable distance.


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Southern Bred Vol. 2 – Mississippi R & B Rockers

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

What begins in charming fashion where blues was raw and rickety with plenty of  evidence supplied by the ilk of Robert Johnson (‘Preaching Blues’), Charley Booker (‘Charley’s Boogie Woogie’) and a truly acidic turn from Boyd Gilmore (‘All In My Dreams’), the change in style(s) soon gathers pace where the songs begin to add a few more layers and a touch of polish. With ‘Southern Bred Vol. 2 – Mississippi R& B Rockers’ this is exactly what the listener can expect once the aforementioned Robert Johnson opens this particular account and followed by a few musicians offering their take on an early blues sound, before the musical adventure begins to develop more of a rhythm and blues theme that takes in a variety of artists who compel the senses in their own unique ways. For example, one moment BB King is in thrilling mood with his exhilarating ‘BB’s Boogie’ and the next the lesser known (to these ears anyway) Cleo Brown provides a female interpretation via the neat and tidy shuffle, not to mention sophisticated, ‘(Lookie Lookie Lookie) Here Comes Cookie’. That said, there are plenty of well-known names littered throughout this excellent compilation with the likes of Bo Didley appearing with ‘Sixteen Tons’ and a clear candidate for influencing The Rolling Stones, and Eddie Clearwater providing a fuller and rockin’ performance with ‘Hey Bernardine’. The primitive blues sound never strays completely as Big Joe Williams and His 9 String Guitar demonstrate with the basic nuts and bolts of ‘Juanita’. A thoroughly engaging compilation that briefly traces examples of early blues before opening up to a more developed sound consisting of rhythm and blues, ‘Southern Bred Vol. 2 – Mississippi R& B Rockers’ is a good introduction to a vast scene of artists who left their marks through time and will lead to further investigation once these particular songs get under your skin.


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Southern Bred Vol. 1 – Mississippi R & B Rockers

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Welcome to the wonderful world of snap, crackle and pop! Such is the introduction to the first volume in the ‘Southern Bred’ series where blues and rhythm and blues from a distant past is given a fresh airing in the present via Koko Mojo. With this initial volume offering an insight into the workings of a small handful of artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup et al, it is Willie Love and His Three Aces who receive the honour of opening this particular account and, in the process, provide a piano lesson that sounds somewhat ghostly given the age of this series via ‘My Own Boogie’. In fact, the passion for Willie Love continues as he makes an appearance during Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Stop Now Baby’ and then showing up again at various points with, for example, His Three Aces and the cryptic title of ‘Feed My Body To The Fishes’ that sounds like redemption to these ears. Big Joe Williams ‘She Left Me A Mule’ is a compelling listen with its simplicity of sound and down on its luck tale. Such thoughts also apply to Elmore James with Sonny Boy Williamson where the combined use of slide guitar and harmonica have no problems coming up with the required ‘Dust My Broom’. By focusing on a select group of artists provides a different angle to previous compilations released by this record label where volume one in this series focuses strongly on an early blues sound that will have you hooked from start to finish.


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Geechie Goomie: Rhythm and Blues Gone Caribbean

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A clutch of sophisticated tracks has been chosen for this compilation album consisting of various artists that make up this rather cool and collected long player by the name of ‘Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’. From the off Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’ will appeal to the vinyl connoisseurs among us due to its 10” album format. Despite the appealing presentation of this LP package, it remains the contents inside that rightly attracts the most attention, and for good reason, when blessed with Latin American influences via the moving upbeat tempos of ‘Voodoo’ supplied by Red Callender Sextet and wild and carefree rhythm of Chris Powell & His Blue Flames’ ‘I Come For Jamaica’, with both songs receiving extra points for their use of brass instrumentation. Providing sterling jobs elsewhere are back-to-back numbers ‘Within This Heart of Mine’ and ‘Where Were You’ where the vocal performances of Camille Howard and Jimmy Rushing respectively shine the brightest. Such feats are repeated via the smooth running of The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda and ‘Bermuda Buggy Ride’ and, always reliable, Dave Bartholomew & His Orchestra with ‘Cat Music’. Brimming with ideas and possessing a real vigour as far as many of the rhythms go, ‘Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’ is a record to get lost in as well as appreciate for its sheer sense of class.


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Pretty Little Horses

The Oldtime Stringband

The Oldtime Stringband

There’s an old-time feel to the music stemming from the Netherlands these days. Well, if your band’s moniker is The Oldtime Stringband that is. With the living and recording quarters situated somewhere in the vicinity of Amsterdam, The Oldtime Stringband has developed an authentic take on bluegrass music with links to Americana and folk seeping into the mix as well. With three previous albums to their name and originally “…formed as a musical backdrop to a documentary about the cow-painter, Ruud Spil”, The Oldtime Stringband issue a fourth album by the name of ‘Pretty Little Horses’. Beginning with ‘Cluck Ol’ Hen’ and followed by ‘Old Yeller Dog’, the scene is set for tiny outpost communities situated in the outback (of your choosing) where lands are worked by day and music, storytelling and consumption of the local hooch are partaken in by night. The aforementioned song duo really brings to the fore The Oldtime Stringband’s qualities for delivering a genuine old-time sound that could be playing to an audience during the 1700s or earlier such is the attention to detail where the focus is bluegrass with heavy folk leanings. From such a latter reference, the album’s title track is traditional folk and performed as a lullaby with beautiful, tender vocals supplied by Shelly O’Day and supported by the faintest trimmings of acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass and banjo. It’s the jewel in the crown here! Elsewhere, the four-piece band deliver a fine instrumental with ‘White Face’, and then follow with the warm and full of character ‘Old Man At The Mill’, before concluding with ‘Long Black Veil’; a reflective and tearstained duet delivered with conviction. A fine end to a more than fine album that sees The Oldtime Stringband firing on all cylinders.


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Love Is A 4 Letter Word (Single)

Joakim Tinderholt & His Band

Rhythm Bomb

Bringing the blues and rhythm and blues sound up to date, yet retaining a strictly vintage sound, is Joakim Tinderholt & His Band and their latest single ‘Love Is A 4 Letter Word’. With two long players to his name, this latest creation finds Tinderholt in tender mode with a nice, clever spin on the interpretation of the “…4 letter word” at the centre of this song. Strictly limited to 500 copies, those who’ve been following Joakim Tinderholt & His Band since their inception will be fully aware of the flipside to this 45” ‘You Gotta Do More’, which offers a powerhouse in the shape of the vocals with no suggestion of it working overtime. Supporting this natural talent is a crisp, lively beat that is rock ‘n’ roll tinged with blues. Naturally, comparisons will be made with that other major namesake JD McPherson, but if you can allow space for one more in your heart, then love is a 4-letter word in its truest form.


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For Gangsters and Lovers (EP)

Johnny Guitar Watson

Koko Mojo

Coming out of Texas was the guitar maestro and singer Johnny Guitar Watson. Having started out learning to play the piano from a young age, Watson made the move to performing on guitar after his grandfather purchased said instrument when his grandson was eleven years old. However, despite the newfound love for guitar playing, it was the piano that provided Watson’s first breakthrough in terms of entering the music industry where he cut his first records for Federal (1952) under the moniker Young Johnny Watson. The “Guitar” segment entered Watson’s stage name once a screening of Joan Crawford’s ‘Johnny Guitar’ had been seen, and then subsequent releases for Class and King Records to name but two. He was renowned for his flamboyant styles of dress and wild antics on stage, which is not difficult to comprehend considering the varying styles presented via the EP ‘For Gangsters and Lovers’. While it’s a rhythm and blues and strong blues record, it remains the interesting way Johnny Guitar Watson trades these styles. For example, one moment it’s the rhythm and blues/rock ‘n’ roll mash up of ‘The Bear’ that grabs you by the shirt collar, then to be greeted by a laidback, heavy blues guitar during ‘She Moves Me’, which slowly gathers some momentum yet remains utterly compelling due in large to Watson’s ability to captivate one’s attention with his vocal. ‘Gangster of Love’ is universal knowledge by now and has lost none of its appeal. The final cut ‘Hot Little Mama’ is high on tension where you can hear Watson almost strangulating the neck of his guitar and living up to that “attacking style” he was renowned for. It’s a breath-taking finale and one that offers further evidence of the exciting talent that was Johnny Guitar Watson.


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Larry Williams (EP)

Larry Williams

Koko Mojo

Giving the title of this record to its creator speaks volumes about the artist because there’s no real introduction required here as the singing talent that was Larry Williams should be known by all. Outside of the music and leading up to his introduction to the world of rock ‘n’ roll, Williams life was equally compelling as he dabbled in numerous illegal activities as well as serving as a chauffeur for then Speciality recording artist Little Richard. Captured on wax are four rock ‘n’ roll burners that clearly remind of the wild talent that was Larry Williams, but also serve as a reminder of the major success this artist experienced during the late 50s. It is the two leading tracks – ‘Short Fat Fanny’ and ‘Bony Maronie’ – that proved major breakthroughs for Williams, with both songs riding high on the R&B and pop charts. Following on from these two rockin’ numbers is the pick of a very fine crop with the molten hot ‘Slow Down’. Concluding this four-track EP is ‘Give Me Love’ that sounds cutting-edge for its time due to possessing early 60s influences before reaching that decade. The rest is history as far as the music career of Larry Williams is concerned as darker days ensued where the criminal underworld proved a bigger lure than securing future recording contracts once the doors of Speciality closed shut.


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Sweet Thing

Bonita & The Blues Shacks

Rhythm Bomb

After a stint in the shade, Bonita & The Blues Shacks make a return with album number two. The latest creation ‘Sweet Thing’ arrives after the eponymously titled debut back in 2015 and continues with the same line up consisting of one of Europe’s finest, B. B. & The Blues Shacks and up-front Bonita supplying the vocals. With the new album being made up of carefully selected cover songs and original compositions, in addition to mixing up the overall rhythm and blues sound with elements of soul, jump blues and more traditional stylings, Bonita & The Blues Shacks really get to work with a total of sixteen tracks. From such mammoth pickings, it’s the opening ‘He Made A Woman Out Of Me’ that raises attention due to its leanings towards soul music and is a bold choice to begin with, and then followed by what sounds like a soul track judging by its title (‘Momma’s Goin’ Dancin’) lets the blues in via some deft guitar playing and adds the element of surprise. ‘Hottest Wings in Town’ continues the blues workout and offers a streetwise perspective both in sound and lyrics. There’s great duets to be had here as well with the engaging ‘So Close’, which happens to be one of their own, and then followed by the resurrected archive of ‘That’s My Baby’ rolled out in more traditional guise and all the better for it. It’s certainly a mixed bag of styles that flows throughout the album ‘Sweet Thing ‘and therefore offering something for all blues and rhythm and blues supporters, but when the traditional route is given some airtime, then it’s where Bonita & The Blues Shacks truly shine.


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Edge of Love (EP)

Lisa Redford

Bandcamp

These are exciting times for singer-songwriter Lisa Redford. With a new EP released by the name of ‘Edge of Love’, consisting of five tracks containing a blend of Americana, country, folk, soul and classic pop, the future certainly looks bright for the Norwich based artist. Despite any optimism felt in terms of the upward trajectory of the career of Lisa Redford, there are telling signs that all has not been well. The giveaway is the poignant quote adorning the new record sleeve where, “Tears are words that need to be written,” (Paulo Coelho). Seemingly taking this onboard, one of the UK’s closest exports to creating an authentic country sound projects such sadness through the songs gracing ‘Edge of Love’. It all begins with ‘Anything But Easy’ that is similar in style to Redford’s earlier release ‘Another Place and Time’ where the tempo is upbeat, yet lyrics reveal the complexities of an intimate relationship. The EP’s title track is a stirring ballad and one that casts a shadow over the subject matter as it approaches with caution and given further emphasis by the musical accompaniment of piano, cello and compelling vocals. With this being the sole track to offer a hint of optimism as far as love is concerned, despite its reservations as well, the remaining songs depict breakdowns in communications and the inevitable demise of relationships only for the emotional tug-of-war to continue long after such events have died in the embers. Such examples are left to a couplet of ballads, ‘I Just Can’t Forget’, which has an atmosphere of country and soul, whereas ‘Alone Tonight’ is delicately played out via acoustic guitar and gorgeous vocals drawing the listener closer and closer to its beating heart. For our money though, the late-night draw of ‘Let Go’ wins hands down with its impression of attempting to win over a hardened crowd at the local honky-tonk via an abundance of harmonies and hooks (with special mention going to the pedal steel and 12-string Rickenbacker). With ‘Edge of Love’ apparently arriving at some personal costs and despite any suggestions of cracks appearing on its surface, there remains a heartbeat at the centre of this record because Lisa Redford (plus band) has made a rousing comeback that is likely to win over new supporters here as well as overseas.


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Combination Boogie

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Just as its title suggests, the tracks complied for this latest instalment in the Koko Mojo series consisting primarily of blues and old-fashioned rhythm and blues (the way it should be) is a combination of these two genres that do their upmost to maintain a rockin’ beat throughout. As with previous titles, the names littered here will be familiar to many (Arthur Crudup, Little Junior Parker, Big Al Downing, Bo Diddley et al) but there are many that will be less familiar (Alonzo Scales, Billy Boy, J. B. Lenoir et al). With any such lists being subjective to individual knowledge of course, the long list of artists given airtime during ‘Combination Boogie’ is a delight to behold. Kicking off with what sounds ramshackle at first yet develops into a full-blown gallop of rockin’ blues complete with harmonica is an early shot of medicine supplied by Doctor Ross and ‘Cat Squirrel’. Maintaining this lively start is the excellent ‘Goin’ Back Home’ by Cousin Leroy that is packed with details and suggests numerous paths this song could suddenly take off in such is the musicianship at the centre of this record. At other junctures you will find Silas Hogan giving a straight rendition (and one aided by the harmonica) with ‘Lonesome La La’, and then greeted by full band versions of Jimmy McCracklin ‘Gonna Tell Your Mother’ and Tender Slim ‘Don’t Cut Out On Me’. The combined blues and rhythm and blues, and not forgetting the dash of rock ‘n’ roll supplied on various occasions, ‘Combination Boogie’ is yet another reason to reach for this compilation series because once more it’s of the highest standard.


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Don’t Touch! (EP)

Andre Williams

Koko Mojo

A nicely packaged vinyl EP featuring four lesser-known tracks from self-proclaimed “performer” Andre Williams. Celebrated by a diverse range of artists including The Cramps and The John Spencer Blues Explosion amongst others and enjoying something of chequered career in and outside of music, Andre Williams is given a fresh platform by Koko Mojo Records. As mentioned, the four songs remain somewhat obscure when up against the likes of ‘Bacon Fat’, ‘Jailbait’ and ‘Pass The Biscuits, Please’. Having said that, the tracks selected for this EP release – ‘Don’t Touch’, ‘Hey Country Girl’, ‘Goin Down To Tia Juana’, ‘Just Want A Little Lovin’ are more conventional for the times because the previously mentioned tracks possessed qualities that suggested Williams was ahead of his time. Taking nothing away from the songs showcased here as they’re equally compelling with much vibrancy in the rhythms of the EP’s title track and pursuing ‘Hey Country Girl’, and then diversity given, along with a touch of sophistication, to the Latin influenced ‘Goin Down To Tia Juana’. Just edging it, however, is the closing ‘Just Want A Little Lovin’ that is most certainly raw yet suggestive of many things in terms of its approach that could be interpreted as near-drunken stupor yet equally confident in terms of its desires. It’s a thrilling finale to a thoroughly engaging EP.



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