JEREMIAH JOHNSON BAND – Blues Heart Attack
2016 / Connor Ray Music
Review written by Marc Tucker - 08/01/2016
Whoa! Waitaminnit! “Jeremiah Johnson?!?!”, you ask, and, yep, his parents named him for the Clint Eastwood movie. Then lad took to St. Louis bluesrock at the tender age of 6, digging the hell out of Clapton, Hank Williams Jr., and one of my all-time faves: Ten Years After’s Alvin Lee (birthname, and I didn’t know this ‘til recently: Graham Anthony Jones). Catch “Flat Line”, “Get It in the Middle”, and others for great examples of Big Al’s influence – Stonedhenge, y’all! So it’s hardly surprising when Blues Heart Attack, Johnson’s fourth release, starts off heavy with “Mind Reader” and pretty much stays that way; not metal, mind ya, but weighty and solid, sincere, driving…and when it’s not, it’s jazzy jump blues a la the early-years TYA.
We all know the late, great, red-haired, pant-tassled Lee was a speed demon, at the time of Woodstock the guy to match, arguably the prime precursor to the latterday shred culture, but those of us who listened to the whole catalogue of the whizbang understand he loved, perhaps even more than the burn-em-up frantic-frets gigs, good full-bodied blues boogie too, tracks with well-chosen chords and much simpler but oh-so-satisfying leads, and Johnson dives straight into the same righteous groove all through his CD, a player favoring taste and lyricism over blurs of chops. No Yngwie Malmsteening going on here!
But the backstory doesn’t end there: catch the Dickey Betts flavors in “Skip that Stone”, and there’s a good deal of Johnny Winter in Johnson’s shout-singin’ (“Summertime”, ”Room of Fools”, “Sun Shine Through”), among other discernable ingredients, not to mention a very Michael Stanley-ish blue collar approach from start to finish…though the Elvin Bishopy “Everybody Party” tosses in grins and good times as the frosting on the blues-berry cake. The band’s a trio (Jeff Girardier – bass, b. vox.; Benet Schaeffer – drums) with a couple session cats in various places plus Tom Papa Ray playing harp on “Skip that Stone”, so the rockin’ ‘n bluesin’ is always straight ahead, gritty, and full bodied. Oh, and Johnson may be a Missouri boy head to foot, born and raised, but that dark indigo cover pic of his tattooed scruffy self under a leather cowboy hat is visual warning there’s a quite decent modicum of Texas Tornado in him as well. The Big Mo is only a stone’s throw from Tejas, and I have a sneaking suspicion he was crossing state lines more than a few times.
Jeremiah Johnson Band - Official Website
Jeremiah Johnson Band's Official YouTube