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 at Elsewhere articles index

B.B. King: Makin' Love is Good For You (SBird/Southbound)

B.B. King: Makin' Love is Good For You (SBird/Southbound)

With the great B.B. King due to arrive in Australasia for concerts, this now-readily available album from 2000 is timely. It caught him on a career high with his road-tested band in the studio just... > Read more

DUKE ROBILLARD INTERVIEWED (2004): Still in that room full of blues

DUKE ROBILLARD INTERVIEWED (2004): Still in that room full of blues

When you think of Rhode Island, you don't immediately think of it as a crucible of the blues. It's the state north of New York so small you could carpet it, the home of the red chicken - Rhode... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Richard X Bennett: RXB3 (Ubuntu Music/digital outlets)

Richard X Bennett: RXB3 (Ubuntu Music/digital outlets)

New York-based pianist Richard X Bennett has appeared previously at Elsewhere (and was the subject of some Elsewhere Art) because he has been very different, right from our first hearing of... > Read more

HARRY NILSSON PROFILED. The fire this time

HARRY NILSSON PROFILED. The fire this time

The too-short life of the greatly under-appreciated singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson (1941-94) was full of bitter ironies: not the least was that this gifted songwriter's biggest hits were written... > Read more