The San Francisco scene gave Tommy Castro his start as he launched his solo career back in the early nineties. Having honed his skills for years touring with the Dynatones, Castro was much more his own guitarist, writer, and bandleader. He signed with Blind Pig and was an immediate success with his 1996 debut Exception To The Rule. He followed that with two Jim Gaines-produced releases that also pushed his name to the top of the blues rock ladder: Can't Keep A Good Man Down and Right As Rain. Last year, he again with Blind Pig released a much anticipated live album Live At The Fillmore.
This release is an anthology of his hits from those previous four releases. It includes a previously unreleased version of "Nobody Loves Me Like My Baby" that is also a live video track on CD-ROM. Castro has found legions of fans with his incendiary guitar, but he has also pleased blues fans with his economy and reserve. He is a clean player with artful phrasing that excites guitar fans, while soothing soul factions with southern-slanted vocals and horn accentuation that recalls Memphis blues formulae. Jim Gaines' production hand echoed and brought out that southerly appeal.
Here's what you get: the three aforementioned studio album title tracks, "Lucky In Love", "The Girl Can't Help It", "Just A Man", "Had Enough", "Nasty Habits", "Sho' Enough", "Take The Highway Down", and "Hycodan". For those familiar with Castro, this is the cream off the top, and the live enhancement is a great bonus. For those who don't ... this collection is well, 'essential' , just to get a great taste of this blues rocker. Take measure, this is a strong listen to a newly popular blues entertainer; a nice plop in the player at any time, in any event.
Musicians include: bassist Randy McDonald; saxman Keith Crossan; drummers Billy Lee Lewis or Shad Harris; keyboardists Jimmy Pugh (Robert Cray Band), Stu Blank, Austin DeLone, or John Turk; and trumpeter Tom Poole. Background vocalists are The Glide Ensemble: Turk, Ron Beck, Roosevelt Winchester, Charles Jones, L.Z. Love, and Cheryl Serame; or Jeanie Tracy and Annie Stocking.
Blind Pig Records; P.O. Box 2344; San Francisco, CA 94126:
or, www.blindpigrecords.com; or, www.tcband.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, 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.