The Triple A Blues Band's labor of love continues with the release of "Pork Chop Money." It is the follow up to the band's acclaimed "High Water" CD, and again contains a mixture of blues styles. This time around there's nine tunes; the six originals were all written by frontman Andy Tolins, although Bill Besecker wrote (and performed) the recitation on the title track.
The album opens with an acoustic intro to Tampa Red's "Tight Like That" before the band join in to add extra punch. It gives you a chance to experience two slightly different sides to the band's sound. After the title track the only instrumental, "Corkscrew," comes along. It starts out with a jazzy opening, and has several passages to it, the best of which is where the harp takes the lead, supplemented by some swinging horns. You could easily imagine this as the "introduce the band" number in a live show. It is then back to acoustic mode with "Blues Knocked Me Down," a short piece which features some very nice finger picking and slide guitar from Tolins.
The second of the three covers ("Lonesome Road Mambo," which is based on the Tommy Johnson song), is followed by another interlude where the lighter side of the band dominates. First up is "SugarDoo," a very good song which has the sort of feel to it that you would normally associate with the Eric Bibb. It is followed by "(See You) By My Side," before the band beef things up again on J.B. Lenoir's "Talk To Your Daughter."
The album ends on another high note with "Don't Call Me No Bum." There is a very definite back to the country feel on this one. The overall sound has an element of the jugband about it, with John Kovalchik's tuba standing in for the jug. You could easily imagine someone like Cephas and Wiggins, or Paul Rishell and Annie Raines doing this song.
There is a nice relaxed feel permeating "Pork Chop Money," which is evidence of the band doing what they love doing. "High Water" was always going to be a hard act to follow, but "Pork Chop Money" manages to maintain the streak, and its best moments are at least the equal of anything on its predecessor. If you get a chance, try and catch the band live when you are passing by State College.
The Triple A Blues band have a standing gig from 18:30-20:30 every Friday night at Zeno's, on the corner of Allen and College, 'directly above the center of the world'.
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.
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