The Mannish Boys

The Mannish Boys
Double Dynamite

Delta Groove DGP-CD-153

By David Wilson
June 2013

Just the name of this West Coast group indicates a whole lot of attitude and if you, as I, were not familiar with them beforehand you might wonder if they had the aptitude to match. It takes a bit of presumption to name yourselves after a Muddy Water’s standard and to include that standard in your repertoire. On top of that, putting out a 2 disc release without padding or puff pieces or including previously released tracks adds another level of chutzpah.

By the time this sees posting, they may have already won a Handy, oops, sorry, they are simply called Blues Music Awards now, for Mannish Boys has been nominated in two categories: Best Album and Best Band. They deserve nominations in both categories and the awards will be announced on May 9th.

From the opening cut on Disc 1, Atomic Blues, Son House’s “Death Letter” with a gripping vocal rendition by newest member Sugaray Radford to the ending of a baker’s dozen that climaxes with the namesake tune, “Mannish Boy,” graced by guest vocalist and Muddy Waters kinder, Mud Morganfield, the material and the performances are first rate and honor the roots of the blues with brilliant contemporary interpretations.

This production has so many guest artists (14 on Disc 1, 23 on Disc 2), that in a mob scene, one might think the seven group members would be obscured. It does not happen here for while they perform as an ensemble, they are all leaders at one time or another, more or less often, of their own groups and know how to integrate their talents. The song selection is choice, including classics and should-be classics from the likes of Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Spann, MB member Randy Chortikoff and a medley pairing of Muddy’s “She’s 19 Years Old” with his “Streamline Woman.”

Disc 2, titled Rhythm & Blues Explosion, would not ordinarily interest me as much, save that the blues element of R&B is so reverently maintained in this collection that I stayed fascinated throughout. Again, they have put together a choice selection including classics from Booker T, James Brown, Ray Charles and James Cotton. From Booker T’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” through Cotton’s “West Helena Blues” to James Harman’s program closer, “Hittin’ The Groove,” which gently brings our feet down to the ground and heads back to our shoulders, this collection is as good as any electric urban blues release I have heard heretofore.

Late Breaking News: Double Dynamite did win the Blues Music Award for best Traditional Blues Album…

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