Popa Chubby

Popa Chubby
Universal Breakdown Blues


By Lady K
March 2014

With the release of Universal Breakdown Blues, Popa Chubby (aka Ted Horowitz) has given the adult world of music lovers a whole new ‘listen’ on a tune that everyone associates with being a kid. Go listen to Popa’s version of “Over the Rainbow” – it’s life-changing!!!!!!

So, Popa Chubby writes the music, sings and plays guitar (and that’s understating what the man does with his guitar). It’s hypnotic blues rock and insane. Oh, and “Over the Rainbow” is amazing (have I mentioned that already?). The other players on this CD include Sari Schoor (vocals); Steve Holley, Simeon Cain, or Chris Reddan (drums); Chris Jefferson, Eric Boyd, Galea, or A.J. Pappas (bass); Dave Keyes (keyboards); Snidley Whiplash (cowbell).

Before I get into the descriptions of the tracks on this CD (“Over the Rainbow” is track 7, by the way), let me state that I’m can’t possibly mention what Popa Chubby does with and to his guitar on every track – just keep in mind it’s amazing; beginning with “I Don’t Want Nobody”, an uptempo tune with a loooong instrumental intro and a big-band sound. A tune where he’s getting out of his relationship: ‘I don’t want nobody always tryin’ to tell me what to do / I loved you little baby, but I’m through with you.’

“I Ain’t Giving Up” is slow and sexy, with Schoor’s backup vocals enhancing the sexy. In the tune, he’s warning that he’s going to get her back: ‘I ain’t giving in, won’t back down, no matter what shape I’m in / the sun gonna shine again someday.’ The up-tempo title tune, “Universal Breakdown Blues” bemoans sadness and turmoil around the world: ‘What will it take to remember where we came from? I was lost and disillusioned and found I was the one who held the key.’ Heavy stuff, and so well done.

In addition to Lady K’s total fave (have I mentioned “Over the Rainbow”?), “The Peoples Blues” is also on her ‘Like’ list. It’s slow, sad blues, gorgeously sad blues, with a long instrumental middle, and sad lyrics: ‘You went and left me baby / you didn’t even say goodbye / all that I can do is just hang my head and cry / all along you were running around with another guy.’ The old blues of “Rock Me Baby” contain Popa Chubby’s new lyrics and arrangement: ‘Rock me like my back ain’t got no bone.’ And then there’s a bit of a Latino beat to “69 Dollars” – he traded his love for booze ‘got a bottle of gin / ain’t got my baby no more’. There’s a hoppin’, up-tempo duet between Popa and his guitar (with some vocal backing by Sari) on “I Need A Little Mojo”, and some drumming by Cain that’ll make you sit up and take notice. To add a little funk to your life (OK, more than a little funk) check out “Danger Man”.

Has Lady K overstated how much she loves track 7? Theoretically, you’d have to consider “Over the Rainbow” (by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen) a cover, but emotionally it sounds absolutely nothing like the tune that Harburg and Arlen wrote, made eternally famous by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz”. No comparison – this is a totally hypnotizing instrumental version, with Popa Chubby’s guitar taking the place of Garland’s vocals. By far “Over the Rainbow” is Lady K’s absolute favorite track on the whole terrific CD.

Another cover is Mason Casey’s “Goin’ Back to Amsterdam (Reefer Smokin Man)”. It’s an anthem to rockin’, hip-swinging’ up-tempo blues. And on the shimmy-provoking “The Finger Banging Boogie” Popa Chubby does it all – wrote the tune, plays guitar - including slide - did the drum programming, and sings a very suggestive tune. The heavy bass and drums on the up-tempo finale, “Mind Bender” are awesome, and provide a fittingly impressive wrap-up to this CD: ‘Your love’s got me in a trance / Mind-bender / taking my smile away / Mind-bender / bending my mind away / bent, broke . . .’

Lady K loves Universal Breakdown Blues enough to forgive Popa Chubby for his choice of a stage name. She was just getting ready to dig-in and start writing this review when she discovered what the name means. Copious amounts of Bombay Gin, alternated with smelling salts, enabled her to repeat the name as often as necessary to write the review. (Look it up, Lady K is not gonna explain it here.)

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