Originally released on the French Dixie Frog label, Popa has been picked up, enhanced and reissued by the California Blind Pig Records. The Brooklyn-native Popa Chubby (Ted Horowitz) arrived at the blues through and after rock and punk pilgrimages. Working out of a bag that includes country, jazz, funk, and hip-hop, Popa unloads on this release with his blistering and relentless Epiphone attacks. Combine those influences with his own urbanized vocal character and, voila, you got the Chubby.
Popa's guitars and vocals are backed by his own drum programming, bass work, electric sitar, baritone guitar, clavinet, harmonica, and percussion. He is also helped out by Steve Holley on drums, bongos, and percussion; while Kris Jefferson assists on the bass. Mike Latrell is found on the Hammond organ, mandolin, and piano; and Galea throws in the background vocals. The tenor saxophone is provided by Craig Dryer.
The opener rocks out of the gate and responds to Popa's mood du jour on his "Daddy Played The Guitar And Mama Was A Disco Queen" with a little Zappa-ish humor. The sultry "Time Is Killing Me" and his anthemic "Carrying The Torch Of the Blues" show the depth of Popa's skills and influences. The funky "Savin' My Love Up For My Lover" segues right into "No Comfort" and then the prophetic, country twangin' "It's A Sad Day In New York City When There Ain't No Room For the Blues". From the cutting lyrics to the raggin' piano, the track is a killer that's spontaneously fresh. Chubby throws his entire experience into the stew and gives his music a newly vibrant breath. When you hear his tantalizing slide guitar on the closing title tune, it will really frost your cake!
Popa Chubby got up and got the mojo working on these tracks. Blind Pig should be applauded for giving the release widespread American distribution. Throw this (snort, snort) in the computer and check out the Popa video performing with the forcefulness of the surrounding New York subway. These are on-the-edge blues from a very progressive source and force. Get the Chubby and see how phat you really are!
Blind Pig Records; P.O. Box 2344; San Francisco, CA 94126
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.