While harp wrangler Gary Primich might not be a household name where blues is concerned, he is, without question, a force to be reckoned with and he proves it again with his newest on the Antone's label. After the departure of guitarist Shorty Lenoir, who worked alongside the harmonica ace from 1991 to 1997, Primich lost a bit of momentum with 1999's "Botheration," but Chris Masterson's work here is superb, as is that of Jon Moeller, who guests on three cuts. Ex-bandmate Mark Korpi takes credit for helping pen four of the ten tracks with most of the balance coming from Primich or James Harman's partner-in-crime, Jeff Turmes. Fans of Shorty Lenoir should be happy to know that he's returning to the Primich fold since Masterson left after these tracks were cut at Arlyn Studios. The core band here consists of a rhythm section made up of Randy Glines on bass while Jim Starboard manages drumming duties, and they are ably assisted by Gene Taylor's piano on one track, and the sax work of Mark Kazanoff and John Mills for two, while Nick Connolly tackles the keys for a handful.
Things get rolling right out of the gate on "Mr. Lucky" where Primich and Masterson weave seamless fills around the swinging groove and both hustle up quality solos; the harp toned deep and fat while Masterson's guitar work owes a nod or two in the direction of T-Bone Walker and Bill Jennings. "Dog House" follows with some high register harmonica and the guitar taking a short break filled with double-stops and quick bursts of dirt and the Louisiana slow-walking ballad of "That's What Love Was Made For" finds Moeller handing in some Texas grit with blasts from an overdriven amp. "Angeline" finds Primich pining for a lady of the evening with smart lyrics (everything here has panache and taste written all over it) and "Brown Derby Liquor" works off a smoldering funk groove and offers nastiness from both Primich and Masterson. "Elizabeth Lee" rides along a sweltering and relentless grind made twice as crisp due the serious distortion levels from Masterson's guitar while the harp leans toward the Excello catalog and the disc's sleeper steps up in the form of "Hoodoo Preacher." Written by Primich and Korpi, a team who can knock ideas about with the best of them, its lyrics conjure up instant visual imagery while Masterson's guitar sounds more than close to that of Shorty Lenoir's previous contributions to the Primich catalog and the outcome is far more than the sum of individual parts. The pair written by Jeff Turmes stand tall with a second-line groove providing the backdrop for "I Know It's Wrong," fine contrasts in tone appearing as Masterson hands in a gritty solo that makes way for some sweet harp sounds, and the lowdown-in-the-alley-behind-the-Excello-studios "I Can't Stand You When You're Drinking" is as tough as they come. "Texas Love Kit" closes out the set with Primich blowing some fine chromatic, and as with everything else here, the band stays in-the-pocket offering the necessary support.
The small complaint lands only with the ridiculously short playing time; clocking in at just over 37 minutes is far too little with CD's being capable of much better than an hour... and while it isn't a requirement to fill a disc completely, longtime fans of Gary Primich will have reason to offer groans of disappointment, considering his 'live' sets run far longer. After handing out a number of solid efforts for both the Flying Fish and Black Top concerns, "Dog House Music" on the Antone's label follows on the heels of its predecessors; it's serious blues taken with a wry twist of humor, yeoman support from an excellent cast of sidemen, and Gary Primich hustling up an all-meat-with-no-filler affair. Web connections are available at: www.antonesrec.com or www.garyprimich.com - both packed with blues content.
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