Popa Chubby

Popa Chubby
Electric Chubby-Land Volume I & II

Blind Pig Records (BP 5116, BP 5117)

By Georgetown Fats
February 2008

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On first appearance Popa Chubby (who was dubbed Popa Chubby by Bernie Worrell of Parliament-Funkadelic,) the man born as Ted Horowitz more closely resembles a gentlemen’s club bouncer than a multi-national recording artist, producer, or staunch advocate of New York City blues.

Luckily when the heavily tattooed mountain of a man rips into his Fender guitar, his stripped down sound is a combination of punk-infused blues rock. Chubby’s studio albums can be hit-or-miss, there is a large volume of recorded material, and Popa clearly needs a confidant to suggest tunes which should see the light of day, and tunes which are best left on the studio floor. Popa’s live recordings are a thing of punk-blues-rock beauty. In a live setting, Popa is a master in his area of expertise.

On Electric Chubby-Land Volume I & II, for Blind Pig Records, Chubby takes on Hendrix, a guitar god who is often imitated but never duplicated. Not realizing Electric Chubby-Land Volume I & II were live recordings, there was initial trepidation on taking on this review. Since a majority of blues-rock bands have a few Hendrix covers on their set lists, and Chubby’s live recordings can be hit-or-miss this two-volume set posed several challenges on first consideration.

Fortunately, the discs are live recordings. Backed by AJ Pappas on bass and Chris Redman on drums the gravel-voiced guitar shredder is clearly comfortable in his element.

As with his back catalog, when Chubby is on, he has the ability to breathe life into these well- covered classics. However, this two disc set could have been trimmed to a single CD.

Volume I contains 12 tracks mostly filled with Hendrix’s greatest hits and covers. “Manic Depression” receives a punk-blues-rock treatment which stands up to the original, “Red House,” “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” are also highlights. Proving he is not just your average Hendrix fan, Chubby also includes deep tracks from Hendrix. Unfortunately the deeper tracks such as “Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” “Remember,” and “Can You See Me” come off as filler. As with his studio recordings, Volume I could have benefited from an arbitrary opinion willing to suggest some of these cover songs did not need to see the light of day.

On Volume II it’s once again more of the same.

“I Don’t Live Today,” “Little Wing,” “Voodoo Chile,” and “Fire” are excellent interpretations of classic rock staples. Cover versions of “Who Knows” and “Izabella” would have best been left in the Blind Pig vaults. Inclusions of a cover version of “Come On,” written by Earl King, or the extended version of Chubby’s original tune called “San Catri,” make Volume II disjointed.

Sold as two separate CDs, Electric Chubby-Land Volume I & II are meant for the Hendrix aficionados. If sold as a single CD, it would be a perfect double album for the casual Hendrix fan. Those looking for a live Chubby CD where Chubby plays his own material should pick up Big Man Big Guitar or Hit the High One Hard, or better yet, catch the man and his band when he comes to a neighborhood blues club near you.



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