Tommy Castro and the Painkillers: Killin' It Live (Alligator/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Anytime Soon
Tommy Castro and the Painkillers: Killin' It Live (Alligator/Southbound)

Long-serving blues singer/guitarist Tommy Castro has been a winner of the BB King Entertainer of the Year (among many accolades) and this one recorded crisply in various venues in California, New York, Michigan and Texas finds the four-piece in typically incendiary form on mostly originals but also a funky take on Sleepy John Estes' Leaving Trunk and an eight minute workout on Buddy Miles' Them Changes (which appeared on their Stompin' Ground studio album of a couple of years back).

There is a tick-the-boxes ethic on some of these: Make It Back to Memphis manages to namecheck Ray (we're guessing Stevie not James Earl!), Highway 61, Texas hold'em . . . It's exciting and as a set opener a real grabber, but also reflective of Castro's enjoyable but push-button blues (hard times, gotta get up again, being on the road . . .)

He can be a furious player and keyboard genius Mike Emerson is his equal, especially when they step sideways from the flat-tack approach as on the broody Lose Lose, a Castro co-write with Joe Louis Walker, and his more soulful side on the excellent Anytime Soon which is a kind of weary meditation on the state of his nation but that a change is gonna come . . . but it ain't comin' any time soon.

Castro is especially good at this kind of thing, his voice easing towards a less ragged Southside Johnny or Bob Seger and the songs leaving plenty of space for the listener to think through the gaps.

When they hit the blues-rock button Castro and the Painkillers keep everything fist-tight, but frequently (Two Hearts) the vehicles are simply taken from familiar templates and not given much modification.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up! (Stax)

Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up! (Stax)

To be honest, the first couple of times I saw Ben Harper I walked out being bored witless by a man I jokingly came to refer to as "Taj Marley" because he simply seemed to weld together... > Read more

Eric Andersen: Blue Rain: Live (Appleseed/Elite)

Eric Andersen: Blue Rain: Live (Appleseed/Elite)

After four decades as a troubadour, Andersen has finally got round to recording a live album -- but he has done it with typically wilfulness: he hooked up with a Norwegian blues band and recorded... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Various: Cuba, I Am Time (1999)

Various: Cuba, I Am Time (1999)

When any art form has success, especially if it is unexpected, you can expect the ripples for a long time afterwards . . . and like ripples when a stone is thrown in a flat pond, they are of... > Read more

Ben Batterbury's Venison Tartare With Blackcurrants, Gin And Chocolate

Ben Batterbury's Venison Tartare With Blackcurrants, Gin And Chocolate

In May 2011, 32-year old Bristol-born Ben Batterbury, the head chef at Queenstown's prestigious hotel The Rees, presented a menu of New Zealand flavours at the famous Beard House in New York, the... > Read more