The Mississippi Mudsharks

The Mississippi Mudsharks
Train Rolls On

Double Barrel Records

By Georgetown Fats
May 2008

Upon first listen of this disk, Tipper Gore was right. Some CDs should be required to carry warning labels on the packaging. The warning on this disk should read: “Warning, this disk is NOT intended for blues purists. You have been warned.”

There are blues roots all throughout Train Rolls On, but to call Mississippi Mudsharks a blues band is faulty advertising. The Mississippi Mudsharks are a biker-punk band’s journey back to their blues roots.

Originally formed in San Diego in 1992, the band, with Scottie Blinn on vocals and guitar managing, has had a revolving line-up which has generally kept a schedule of 300 dates a year working both in the U.S. and Europe. In spite of the sparse trio line-up and limited overdubs, Train Rolls On is ferocious mix of music which sounds best at high volumes while weaving in and out of traffic on the highway.

From the thunderous opening notes of the disc, two things are clear: Blinn plays a tasty slide guitar, and his vocals could only be created by a man who inhales extensive Harley exhaust. Complimented perfectly by a bombastic Tom Essa on drums and Big Mike Lars on bass, this group is the best example of a power trio.

Track two, “Crimson Sky,” blends a shuffle feel with more punk blues. On again as a trio, the Mudsharks lay a huge groove with limited instrumentation for Mad Dog Blinn to sing over.

On “Throw it in a Hole,” Essa kicks off the song with a drum groove before the rest of the band comes in. It is a laid back rock tune, which pounds on the down beats. The simplistic pounding of the groove really emphasizes what the Mudsharks do best. None of the musicians could perform virtuoso clinics for their respective instruments, but prove the adage of ‘it is not what you play; it is how you play it.’

The track “30 Weight Shuffle,” is the bluesiest track on the disc. Blinn’s ode to his favorite legal hobby is perfect for the rough-and-tumble gut bucket blues joints - establishments where the parking lot features only American made vehicles. It is the soundtrack to the type of bar where patrons must way great live music and ice cold beer against the possibility of being an unwitting star of a future episode of “Cops.”

By the time “Lakeside Redneck Shindig,” hits the speakers, the listener comprehends the formula. The Mudsharks lay an up-tempo groove for Blinn to sing and howl over. With a voice reminiscent of Screaming Jay Hawkins or Howlin’ Wolf, and with proficiency playing rhythm, lead and slide guitar Blinn drives this 18-wheeled truck.

With guest appearances by Johnny Smokes, credited with pedal steel on “Lakeside Redneck Shindig,” and “Devil’s Road;” and Roxanne Blinn credited with “chain” on “Hangin’ Tree,” even the guest contributors keep in mind the premise of “less is more.”

Each special contribution and each guitar solo only serve to propel the song it is featured in, and it’s obvious the 300-plus dates a year have forged this trio into a cohesive dynamic unit.

Train Rolls On may not be intended for blues purists, but those with an adventurous ear willing to mix a great raw punk sound with a 12-bar blues feel should own several copies of this disk. Those who like rock music to help them through cardio should legally download the entire Mississippi Mudsharks catalog, you will not be disappointed.

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