Coco Montoya

Coco Montoya
Dirty Deal

Alligator Records ALCD 4913

By Karen Nugent
February 2007

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Four members of the band Little Feat join veteran bluesman Coco Montoya on Dirty Deal, after he joined them at their annual Feat Festival in Jamaica for two years in a row. The influence shows on a few Little Feat-type funk numbers. There’s also a heavy blues-rock feel to the record, but, Montoya pulls through with a near-perfect rendition of Otis Rush’s “It Takes Time.” He also does some super solos on Johnny Copeland’s “It’s My Own Tears,” a slow, emotional blues; and on Lowell Fulson’s “It’s All Your Fault,” a nearly seven-minute scorcher.

Montoya began his career about 30 years ago as a drummer, eventually ending up playing with legendary bluesman Albert Collins, who taught him some of his famous guitar techniques. After that, Montoya joined John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, playing guitar, before forming his own band in 1993.

The 11-song disc features Montoya on lead guitar and vocals, with Little Feat members Paul Barerre, (guitar, vocals, and percussion), Kenny Gradney, (bass) Richie Hayward (drums) and Bill Payne (keyboards.). Barerre also co-produced the record with Roger Cole, who also plays percussion on it. Other musicians are Tony Stead on keyboards, Steve Evans on bass and Randy Hayes on drums, Fred Tacket on rhythm guitar and Ed Kanon on percussion. That’s a lot of band members for an album described as Montoya’s most raw and stripped down.

The disc opens with the title track, a rocking, but understated song brought up a notch by Montoya’s red-hot guitar playing.

“Three Sides to Every Story” is livelier and more bluesy - it has a bit of a Howlin’ Wolf feel, and Montoya’s growling voice can carry that off. “Love Gotcha” reverts back to rock and funk, and “How Do You Sleep at Night” is a slow R&B ballad laced with Montoya’s searing guitar licks.

“Coin Operated Love” is a New Orleans-inspired smoothy, but “Clean Slate” is an unfortunately selected - and boring - pop-like rock tune.

The Little Feat-like “Put the Shoe on the Other Foot,” brings some life back, and is again a New Orleans-inspired ditty.

The last track, “Ain’t No Brakeman” showcases Montoya’s ripping guitar and gravely voice once again.

You can catch Montoya at Chans in Woonsocket, R.I. on March 5 and 6, and at the Regatta Bar in Cambridge on March 14. He will also be at the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, Maine on July 15.

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