A slide guitar that wails like a train roaring down the tracks, bold bass, screaming guitar and pounding percussion get ''Ride in Style'' rolling, and it doesn't slow down until the last track is over on this 12-song disc of hard- rockin', straight-ahead blues with bite.
With their second album, The Tiger City Jukes put themselves in the fast track on the blues highway. And although they're from a region with a thriving blues scene, it certainly doesn't get the same recognition as, say, Chicago, New York, Louisiana or Houston. In fact, it's not even on the same continent.
But Norway, known mostly for its strong folk tradition, deserves a nod just the same for producing this four-piece blues sensation.
Lead singer and slide-guitar player Knut Eide sounds like a bit like Ringo Starr, and belts out a tune with all the veracity of a Viking, albeit with a lot more finesse and American-influenced style. The songs, all originals except for a snazzy arrangement of "You Keep On Knocking," sound as red, white and blues as any contemporary artist.
Kicking off with "Backseat Love Affair,'' the band - Eide on guitars and vocals; Harald Stokke on guitars, Andre Vrolijk on bass and backup vocals; and Hakon Hansen on drums - slides into a fast groove with all the subtlety of a chromed Cadillac, crunching out chords and some fast licks while Eide wails out a plea for his lover to meet him on the upholstery. The track is a perfect introduction to a band that can lay down a groove with the best of 'em.
Although almost all the music is good, a few more stand out: "Never Too Fat to Mambo'' is a fast and furious witty tribute to getting down and dirty on the dance floor, no holds barred. "Natch'l Ball'' is a perfect party piece, and bears the marks of New Orleans and Chicago influences. "Traffic Jam Sam" is a light-hearted ode to all drivers who'd rather be rolling down the four- lane than sitting in traffic, with a touch of mean harmonica and slinky electric guitar.
The only track I don't care for is "Escape.'' The lyrics sound a tad corny to me; almost as if the band is trying too hard to sound like outlaws in a James Dean movie. But that's my only criticism on an album that's solid in every other respect.
I'd recommend this album to any blues fan based on the music alone. Besides, it'd be a great conversation piece if someone asks, ''Hey, who's that on the box?''
This review is copyright © 2001 by Patrick O'Donnell, 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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