Okay, so it's essentially a demo. Paper sleeve packaging, no frills production, only seven tracks. But if you like your blues hard and fast with a touch of punk, you'd be well-advised to seek this one out at all costs.
The Brown Hornets made their reputation in the bars of Southwestern Ontario, a reputation built largely on astonishing, almost frightening energy. Yet their musical chops elevate them far above the punk aesthetic, which pretty well begins and ends with attitude alone.
Take the opener, "Comin' Down Easy." It's based on the Willie Dixon's much better-known "Mellow Down Easy," but there's nothing mellow here, just the kind of relentless, droning groove that Mr. Hooker might have favored were he starting out today. "Jellyroll," if anything, ups the ante with an even more furious approach. The Hornets take a breather for "Pineapple Teardrops," Danny Walters' organ providing a moody foundation for what can only be described as 'psycadelic blues' by way of the Delta. Next comes a truly unique take on "The Twist," again with a punk sensibility filtered through a bluesy vibe. It take a certain courage to tackle a tune so familiar, but the Hornets pull it off with gusto, Mr. Walters a wildman on the keys. "Decaffeinated Smile" sounds like a Led Zeppelin outtake, every bit as heavy (okay, the vocals are a lot easier to understand, but the groove rocks just as hard!). "What's Wrong," again not far from Zep territory, shows the boys are just as good at funk; finally, "Mannish" (yeah, that one - sort of) gets reinvented as flat-out rock 'n' roll. Given it's primal ferocity, somehow I don't think Muddy would mind too much; same attitude, just a different way of expressing it.
The Hornets aren't for everyone, and purists are advised to give this one a pass. But anyone who cares for Fat Possum's experiments in punk-blues ought to love it.
My take? Go with the flow, and let the Hornets take you for a ride . . .
It's a hell of a trip!
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