Picking up where its predecessor 'A Matter of Time' left off, 'Body of Work-The Downchild Blues Collection Vol.2' continues the saga of Canada's greatest blues band. Twenty more classics have been up-graded and re-mastered to yield 70 plus minutes of intoxicating music. All your favorites are here too, including "Caldonia", "Last Chance To Dance" and "Let's Go Strollin'". And again the material is culled from the better part of three decades, stretching from 1974's 'Dancing' album up to 1996's 'Lucky 13' CD.
The components of that the unique Downchild sound are fully revealed here: A modern but respectful take on traditional blues but fully-electrified, and typified by stinging guitar work, awash with horns and harmonica, and of course a relentless and driving rhythmic foundation. Hearing Downchild founder Donnie Walsh's strictly first-rate material get ignited--as it always does--is dazzling to the ears.
Richard "Hock" Walsh and Tony Flaim are featured vocally on seventy five percent of 'Body of Work', and if there's a heaven, then I'm sure that both these recently departed soul brothers are up in paradise spreading their blues wings-- and harmonizing with the angels.
Flaim's dynamic tenor was the perfect launching pad for so many soul rockers that have become a crucial part of the Downchild repertoire. He's there on "Bop Til' I Drop" (from 1987's 'It's Been So Long')--- meaning its pure TNT excitement. Full of power and bravado, Tony 's dominating vocals propel two early Downchild classics, "Madison Blues " and "Caldonia"-- both featured here. Flaim was the master of the up-tempo, no-holds barred style, as is evidenced on such blasters as "Oh!Oh!" (from 1980's 'We Deliver'), "Old Ma Bell"--a great phone blues song from 1975, and from that same year the anthemic "One More Chance" .
Tony shouts up a storm on that greasy blues shuffler "Where Have You Gone". Dating from 1987, it also features the tumultuous sax of Pat Carey--a recently acquired secret weapon for the band. Ray Harrison of the Cameo Blues Band can be heard handling keyboard duties on this track. . Talking about the ivories, you gotta forever miss the late Jane Vasey whose skillful work is featured throughout much of 'Body of Work' and whose talent gave so much rhythmic urgency to so much of Downchild's mid-era legacy.
There's always an unexpected pearl, and "I'm Alone" (from 1980's 'We Deliver') is a hidden Downchild classic. Flaim's scorching delivery wrenches every nuance of emotion out of this New Orleans-flavored ballad, while Donnie's soaring guitar fills and Miss Vasey's spicy piano complete the magic. 1975's "My Aching Heart" showcases Flaim's bluesier side, well-fuelled by Donnie's nasty slide guitar and David Woodward's understated tenor sax. "I've Been A Fool" (from 1980) lets Donnie's spoken voice reveal his simply shameful secret---while his slide guitar does the real singing. A different but off-beat treat!
Richard "Hock" Walsh had a voice one never tires listening to. Blessed with an extraordinary range, Hock could break your heart when the spirit took hold of him, as it must have done on "A Talk With My Heart" and "Don't Make My Baby Mad"-both taken from 1989's 'Gone Fishing' album.
By the early 90's, when keyboardist Michael Fonfara and vocalist/harpist Chuck Jackson had entered the picture, the basic core of the current Downchild team had taken shape. Joining long-time bassist Gary Kendall, saxophonist Pat Carey-- and of course, Donnie Walsh-they became the torchbearers for Downchild's path into a new century. Chuck's heroic vocals heard on the forceful "Wednesday Night Blues" (taken from 1993's 'Good Times Guaranteed) has made it an automatic highlight of every Downchild show. Holding the post as Canada's top blues vocalist, Chuck can also be heard whipping up a swinging storm on tracks such as "I'm Finished", "Last Chance to Dance", and "When The Morning Comes".
Whether you grew up with them, or are just discovering what Downchild fans always knew, this is an essential blues CD to add to your collection and one that you will play again and again.
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