If you mixed together the Fat Possum sound with the attitude of the North
Mississippi All Stars and classic post-war Chicago blues you would end up
with a band like T-99. Their new CD, "Coo-Coo," is one of the best debut
CDs I have heard in a long time.
"Your Fool Too Long," which opens the album, grabs your attention right
from the start. T-99's music has a dirty raw sound which calls to mind
Chicago during the era of Howlin' Wolf, Magic Sam, and Elmore James. It is
hard to believe that this is an original tune (the first of eight). The
excellent baritone sax is contributed by Arend Bouwmeester.
T-99 are not slaves to the blues, and comfortably straddle blues, R&B, and
rock'n'roll. This is aptly demonstrated by the second track, "Let Your
Eagle Fly" which leans more towards rock'n'roll. They then head back to the
blues for the mean and moody shuffle of "So Many Times." Throughout the
proceedings frontman Mischa Den Haring shows himself to be a first rate
guitarist, and a fine singer adapting himself appropriately to the band's
various styles. He is ably supported by the impressive rhythm section of
Thijs Gorter (bass) and Henk Punter (drums and percussion).
There are a few recognizable influences, such as Howlin' Wolf on "One Man
Down." Although the band do pick up on a number from the Wolf's repertoire
(Willie Dixon's "Do The Do"), they steer clear of the old favorites in
their choice of covers. The first is a toughened up version of Eddie
Taylor's "I Wanna Love You." The band then generate a darker mood for "Evil
Eye" which has shades of "Black Magic Woman" about it, and continue in a
similar vein with Tommy Ridgeley's "Double Eyed Whammy."
The band round things off with three more original tunes. First up is a
great rocking boogie, "Flyin' High," backed up by the excellent
instrumental "Three Times Seven" where Den Haring's guitar playing tips a
nod in the direction of Magic Sam. The album then closes in a strangely
subdued mode with the near-jazz of "Big Ole Town." It conjures up images of
a blues club late at night, when there are only a handful of people left
propping up the bar. It highlights the fact that the band do have a
"Coo-Coo" is a great album. If T-99 can maintain this standard, they could
find themselves in great demand. If you like your blues raw, with stinging
guitar, and a pounding rhythm section, you should check in at the Cool Buzz
web site (www.t-99.coolbuzz.nl) to pick up a copy of "Coo-Coo." If T-99
were American, "Coo-Coo" would be right up there among the nominations for
the next set of awards.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, 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.