When Kid Ramos picks up a guitar, people notice. As the current lead guitarist with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ramos is the retro-bedecked sparkplug for that group. He worked seven years behind James Harman, and even took a short stint with the band, Roomful Of Blues. His solo work, however, has been just as illustrious. A product of his West Coast environs, Ramos has solidified as not only a fine jump/swing axeman, but also as a proficient, no-nonsense blues guitarist in his own right. Not noted for his voice, Ramos has enlisted many of his fine friends as guest vocalists and harp players: They include Charlie Musselwhite, James Harman, Rod Piazza, Lynwood Slim, Paul deLay, Rick Estrin, and Johnny Dyer.
Behind the axe machismo, Ramos is backed by the powerhouse rhythms of Jeff Turmes on bass and Richard Innes on the drums. Tom Mann is heard taking on the ivories. There are seventeen tunes on this disc, with ten original compositions. They were written or brought in for performance by the guests, and Ramos included some by his own hand as well. It's the special selections championed by Ramos and his grand list of invitees that make this platter so varied, yet complementary.
Ramos opens with his own instrumental title tune, and struts his alternatively soothin' and stingin' guitar. James Harman sings "Chicken Hearted Woman" while Kid crows over his barnyard; and Musselwhite's "Charlie's Old Highway 51 Blues" works the Memphis slant. deLay's 50s early rock sound imbues "Say What You Mean, Baby" and "Ain't Gonna Holler" gives bay to Kid's plaintive axe yearnings. Ramos' pairing with wise guy Estrin, the venerable Lynwood, and the hot-handed Piazza continues the pared musical approach to the biscuit.
Coming down to the basic elements, Ramos executes with superb results. The fashionable guest situation plays to a great advantage here; bringing a varied collection of tunes to fore with generous latitude to the contributing players. Ramos is continuously challenged throughout and he comes through with flying colors. A noted West Coast sound is inextricably found here regardless, but that's not bad either. Ramos has many miles to travel before he rests; let's hope they are all as magically musical as the current and previous outings.
Evidence Music Inc.; 1100 East Hector Street, Suite 392; Conshohocken, PA 19428
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, 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.