The name Kid Ramos should be a familiar one to anyone with more than a passing interest in blues. Ramos has forged ahead and become perhaps the premier guitar player around, from his early days as a James Harman axeman, and the foil of Hollywood Fats in that band, to his work with Kim Wilson in the Fabulous Thunderbirds since 1995. His work is surely tough enough, but on CD, Wilson chooses to keep the Thunderbirds a little further from straight-ahead blues than many might like. Ramos found an outlet for his talents and desires to play the romping West Coast Blues he favors and this second disc on the Evidence label is a strong addition to his catalog. One major difference that sets Ramos apart from many other guitar players is that he realizes the importance of all parts fitting to make the outcome hit the spot. Kid and his lengthy list of cohorts on this CD roll back the rugs, plug in the tube amps, and throw a knock-down, drag-out blues party sure to satisfy.
From the first notes of part one of "Strollin' With Bone," it's evident that all the ingredients were in the pot waiting to be mixed. Joined by Gatemouth Brown and Duke Robillard, Ramos and his pals fire off some heavy West Coast Blues guitar on the honking opener. Robert Williams, better known as "Big Sandy" from the Flyright Boys, takes the vocal on "Guitar Player," which finds Ramos getting some help from Charlie Baty on the potent shuffle. Junior Watson climbs aboard on Amos Milburn's "House Party" for some outlandish fretwork, and takes the vocal as well, sounding strong as ever. Janeva Magness takes on Buddy Johnson's "Bring It Home To Me," while Kim Wilson steps in for the Smiley Lewis gem "Where Were You," and the rocking, stripped-bare, Dave Bartholomew-penned "Real Gone Lover," with just harp, guitar, and drums. Former Twin Cities heavy, Lynwood Slim, sounds right at home belting out a Jimmy Liggins composition, "Talking That Talk," and "Happy Hour," from saxman Jeff Turmes' notebook. Rick Holmstrom gets his kicks on the crazed instrumental, "One Bar Short," along with more great licks from Ramos and Baty, and Rusty Zinn helps out on "'Lizabeth" and "Silly Dilly Woman." James Harman rattles in and drops off another example of his genius with "One Mo' Peep," and the party closes out with part two of "Strollin' With Bone," loaded with more twisting guitar from Duke, Gatemouth, and Kid.
The understanding Kid Ramos has for the music as a whole shows up in every track here. While the CD is packed with excellent work from all the slingers, it's the entire blend that makes the difference. With all the fine vocalists (Duke Robillard takes a turn as does James Intveld), Fred Kaplan's strong piano work, the churning horn parts from Jeff Turmes and a couple other honkers, timepiece drumming from Stephen Hodges, and the rumbling bass lines of Larry Taylor, everyone knows their part to make the final outcome what it should be; compact and fun. There aren't any stars here, just a bunch of friends joining Kid Ramos for one hell of a West Coast House Party!
This review is copyright © 2001 by Craig Ruskey, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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