Johnny Drummer

Johnny Drummer
Bad Attiitude

Earwig CD 4967

By Georgetown Fats
April 2014

It will come as little shock to anyone who is familiar with my previous reviews, but I normally revel in sophomoric humor. To me the only thing better than a finely crafted double entendre isn’t a finely crafted triple entendre, it is the double entendre with a uniquely suggestive double meaning. One of the many reasons why blues music is my preferred medium is that many of the greats were masters at painting with slang. When done correctly with just a guitar in hand, The TaleDragger T-Model Ford had the ability to bury absolute raunch in deceptively basic lyrics and melody. Unfortunately, when trying too hard, the double entendre comes off somewhere like Johnny Drummer’s Bad Attitude.

Known as the bandleader to one of the tightest small combos in Chicago, and being signed to the legendary independent Earwig blues label, I set the bar pretty high for the initial listen to the disc. Unfortunately the first run through didn’t go well, and neither did subsequent spins.

While initially clever, “Another Rooster is Pecking my Hen” suffers from Drummer’s vocals and a restrained horn section. Placed over another standard 12 bar blues progression, there is nothing to sink teeth into beyond the initial bawdy humor.

In “One Size Fits All,” what could come off as a raunch-filled funk fest with screaming horn lines and popping bass lines, comes off instead as flat and sophomoric. While soccer parents may find it all to be risqué, while going wild by putting amaretto in their Dunkin coffee, the track suffers from bad arrangement or production or even both.

I so wanted to like this disk, but by the time the 12th track titled “My Woman, My Money, My Whiskey” spills through my speakers I’m contemplating warming up some spoons to jam them into my ears in order to end the pain. While lead guitarist Anthony Palmer tries to elevate the tune with a strong solo, it is just not enough to salvage the tune or the disc.

There is a very good chance Johnny Drummer’s live show is far superior to the recorded version. There is enough here on Bad Attitude that I would seek the band out if I found myself out-and-about on the south or west side of Chicago, but I’m just not finding myself headed out to Dyno Records in Newburyport, my favorite local and independent record store, to have them order the entire back catalog until I do. I wanted to like this disc, especially as a release from Earwig Records (the home of Honeyboy Edwards), but the sterile production and banal humor make this disc a quick addition to the giveaway pile.

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