Coco Montoya

Coco Montoya
The Essential Coco Montoya

Blind Pig Records

By Karen Nugent
January 2010

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Coco Montoya, who cut his chops with blues great Albert Collins and British blues-rocker John Mayall, reportedly selected the cuts for this compilation CD himself. If so, one can only assume he was trying to get away from those earlier blues days.

The 12 tracks, some of which are reminiscent of Carlos Santana, are from Montoya’s solo recordings on Blind Pig Records in the 1990s—his post-blues period.

“Seven Desires,” really sounds like Santana. With some fine female back-up singers, it improves with each listen. While still giving us his signature searing guitar licks, the first five tunes are mainly ballads and rock-influenced Top-40 FM types. They would likely be hits on that kind of programming.

But about half-way through the disc we finally get a nice slow blues with “Do What You Want To Do” written by—you guessed it---Collins.

The rest of the disc is interesting. Another searing slow blues, “You Don’t Love Me” was penned by Montoya himself (he wrote four others on this record) and is almost as good as Collins’. The explosive guitar solo is superb, and the vocals hold up.

Montoya, who was raised by working class parents in West L.A., started out as a drummer in rock bands. In what is a familiar tale, his drumming landed him a place with Collins, who is described as a father figure. The elder bluesman took a liking to the lad and went on to bestow his guitar secrets on him. A later encounter resulted in Montoya joining a new incarnation of Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

But this disc is geared to folks who’d like to hear some of his other styles, most showing great creativity, with some blues thrown in to keep the purists on board.

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