For starters, Jerry McCain has one hell of a rap sheet as a bluesman. Waxing the essential harmonica instrumental, "Steady," would have been enough to have his name added to many 'required listening' lists, but there's plenty more to this artist than a flash of brilliance now and again. His early recordings on Trumpet, Excello, and Jewel should rest in all blues collections. Whether a fan of harmonica, the Louisiana sound, or infectious blues delivered with a constant dose of humor, Jerry McCain comes through in all departments, and this offering features more than an hour of playing time, a guest-list that reads like a who's-who, and an outcome that belongs in the 'Top Ten Discs of 2000' scroll.
The party starts in high gear with "Where You Been," a rocking groove with both Anson Funderburgh and Jimmie Vaughan handling guitar chores, while the master of ceremonies blows tough harmonica, sounding as potent as ever. The slow and primal "Super Woman" features Anson, while his sidekick, Carl Sonny Leyland, adds superb piano to the rugged vocals. The title track works off a walking bass line and Jake Andrews contributes fine guitar to the humor-infused lyrics crafted and tailored by McCain. The harp sound throughout the disc is thick and deep-toned, and especially hearty on "Viagra Man," with Jerry telling everyone he's not worried about getting up or falling down! Jimmie Vaughan adds more of his slashing trademark licks on "Slave Master," and "My Deal At The Crossroads" has no less than three axemen with Derek O'Brien, John Primer, and Bob Kirkpatrick aboard. The slow drag of "Jealousy" is riveting and McCain's sense of true life shines through proving he has the keen ability to continue writing through eyes that have seen practically everything. "Ain't No Use For Drug Abuse" spells the pitfalls from any sort of narcotics ingestion and should become a national theme song. "Madison Mood," a riveting harp showcase, finds McCain plying his trade with both diatonic and octave models, and surely no lack of fire or imagination... a hands down winner. The grueling "Deadbeats" is rife with hilarious lyrics about finding your home invaded by slack-jawed, eating-everything-in-sight, TV watching, toilet using, shoe thieves, and McCain gets at the heart of the problem once again. "Pull Up In My Garage" closes out this on-the-mark disc with some crafty double-entendre writing.
It's truly a pleasure to hear Jerry McCain still hard at work and this CD is proof positive that he's lost nothing in the way of writing lyrical wizardry or a classic instrumental, and he cements his mettle by dishing out a dozen original gems. While there are no remakes of earlier sides, there's no need for them either. It's the diligent work of everyone involved making this one of the finest releases of 2000, and with the number of guests stepping in to add touches of brilliance, navigating who plays what and where can get a bit confusing at times. Rest assured that with the likes of the Double Trouble rhythm section, Vaughan, Funderburgh, Jake Andrews, Johnnie Johnson, and all the others, the finished product glistens. The glue holding it all together is the production work of Mike Vernon, as his sensitive and sympathetic mastery gives testament to an understanding of both the music and the artists. Look this one up in your local blues-retailing hotspot, or online. Excuse me... I have to rid the office of a couple of deadbeats rifling through my Trumpet and Excello 78's...
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.