Jumpin’ Jack Strobel

Jumpin’ Jack Strobel
Things Have Changed

Blues Leaf Records

By Lady K.
August 2014

Jumpin’ Jack Strobel, is out of New Jersey, and his blues have a Ray Charles ‘feel’ in places. According to his bio, Jack took some time and decided to reintroduce himself to the blues world. He describes the aptly titled Things Have Changed as a reflection of his "refreshed state of mind and musical direction." The players include: Jack Strobel (lead vocals, grand piano, B3); Andy Riedel (guitars, backup vocals); Mile Lampe (upright bass, backup vocals); Steve Brown (drums, Koph cajon, percussion, backup vocals); and Layonne Holmes, Ricky Laurie Collins, Big Joe Fitzpatrick, all on backup vocals.

While this album is all covers, the tunes aren’t the ‘normal’ blues tunes that bands tend to do during stage shows. “Mother Earth” (Memphis Slim, Lew Simpkins) is slow swingy blues that explains the facts of life (and thereafter): “You might have all kinds of money, to buy anything you like, I don’t care how great you are, don’t care what you’re worth, when your time comes up you’re gonna go back to mother earth.” (So there.)

Two of Bob Dylan’s tunes are included: “Things Have Changed” is a mid-tempo danceable number with Strobel having a blast with both his Hammond and some honky-tonk piano – very fancy sounding! Everyone knows the lyrics: “People are crazy, times are changin’ / lots of water under the bridge, lots of other stuff too / I feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet.” The second Dylan tune “Don’t Think Twice” is a sexy, slow, very nice version (as a matter of fact, Lady K prefers Strobel’s version to the more familiar Dylan original).

“Valley of Tears” (Welch, Rawlings) is slow rockin’ blues, with backup vocals that add a choir effect, and it describes why you should always be careful about how you choose friends. “I been riding high, but I don’t know why / everybody wants to send me down / people stand in line, just to hear me cry.”

Titus Turner’s “Get On the Right Track Baby” is a short up-up-tempo track with very cool guitar and keyboard duets, hoping that his baby will come back: “Get on the right track / come on home and treat me wrong again / I know you know I love you, and yet you broke my heart in two.” More rockin’ blues in “I Don’t Want to Know”, espousing the theory that what he doesn’t know it isn’t happening: “Don’t tell me what she’s doin’, I don’t want to know / you see the less I know the better / don’t tell me who she’s seein’, I don’t want to know.”

The hip-swinging “New Orleans Blues” by Charles Brown almost begs listeners to dance. “Goin’ down to New Orleans / goin’ down on Rampart Street / until I find my pretty baby / if you see that pretty girl, you tell her I’m in New Orleans.” Al Basile and Duke Robillard (of early Roomful of Blues fame) penned the Latin tempo’d “You Mean Everything to Me” – you’ll want to salsa. There’s much to like about Jumpin’ Jack Strobel and Things Have Changed; not the least of which is his choice of tunes.

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