The ever-increasing number of young guitarists labeled with an ill-fitting blues tag today is enough to make a true connoisseur run headlong for the exits, but truth be told, their involvement won't mean much as they move further into testosterone-laced showmanship. It's the few chosen ones with a burning passion to keep tradition alive who will see that the music moves on in its correct form, that of soulful expression and respectful grace. When looking at the short list of those 'chosen ones' - few and far between as they are - Nick Moss heads the list without question. Learning his craft in Chicago's cradle of blues left indelible impressions on Moss while his attention to detail landed him lengthy stints with Jimmy 'Fast Fingers' Dawkins, The Legendary Blues Band, Jimmy Rogers, and countless others. Far too many players today have lost complete touch with band communication but Moss shows, through his music, that while a guitarist might well be much like the front end of a bullet-bumpered vintage car, it's the mechanisms we don't see that actually move things.
Got A New Plan is Nick's second offering leading his own band through smoldering grooves that nod smartly toward New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago, while touching on the work of those he has respected and admired. Ten of the disc's fourteen tracks were penned by Moss himself, but he eschews showmanship in favor of groove and one of the first things noticed out of the box is Nick's powerful and natural vocal phrasing, another ingredient sadly missing in today's younger crop, including some of the 'chosen' individuals. Ain't Got That Time is eerily close to Muddy Waters and proves as well as anything that this crew is a force to be reckoned with; the immense dynamic surges, gritty fills, target harp blasts, crushing drums, and unmistakable cohesion speak volumes. Arrowmaker Pass is a quirky guitar instrumental showing equal parts Memphis and Maxwell Street and while Moss can startle with his prowess, his sense of rhythmic pulse comes first. The King-like touch and tone in Let's Try This Plan Again is hair-raising and the band's core stays in the pocket offering spot-on support, while Katie Ann, with its Delta-fused simplicity, sounds like it could have been cut at a Big Boy Spires session some fifty years ago. Two Fools With A Misunderstanding hits remarkably close to Chess recordings of decades past and although My Love Strikes Like Lightning comes from Muddy's book, Moss and his cohorts put their own stamp on the proceedings while remaining true to form.
At 65 minutes long, Moss and company don't skimp on quantity but it's the quality that stands tallest, and if blues to some seems too much about trouble and heartache, Nick's expression of love and devotion should offer relief for those with knowledge of what another half is. Hats are off to Greg Campbell's drumming, Andy Lester and James DiGerolomo's bass work, and Bill Lupkin's tasteful harp while kudos are also in order to Gareth Best, Hal Tsushida, John Kattke, Lynwood Slim, and everyone else involved. Listening to this disc offers hope that as we move further into the 21st century, there are those who will remain selflessly tied to what made blues the powerful and heartfelt music it is and should always be. For more info, head to www.nickmoss.com and check up on what others say about Nick Moss & The Flip Tops.
Blue Bella Records
164 Division, Suite 203
Elgin, IL 60120
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Craig Ruskey, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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