One of many jewels of Detroit Blues, Harmonica Shah performs as raw as Magic Slim. The former cab driver lacked the confidence to play the blues until other Detroit notables such as The Butler Twins and Uncle Jessie White provided the encouragement. Shah is an Oakland, California native and was raised in rural Summersville, Texas. Since the late 60s Motown has been his home.
For his 67 minute Electro-Fi debut, Shah (vocals/harmonica) is backed by longtime musical partner Harold Glazer on guitar plus Bob Godwin on bass and Art Vaughn/Charles Stuart on drums. Don't let Glazer's Spinal Tap looking mane fool you, he knows how to play the blues. The common themes among the disc's 12 tracks (11 originals) are sex, back scratching, cheating, Detroit and the great State of Michigan.
"Slow and Easy" is in the vein of Junior Wells from the Hoodoo Man Blues LP. "Welfare Shoes Blues" is from the same sheath as Dust My Broom. Here, the band follows Shah's uncomplicated harp around and sets up the audience for Glazer's slide attack. The 2 main-men trade solo licks that incite each other and brings the rhythm pattern to multiple crescendos on the laid back yet driving "Guilty". On "I Heard You Was At The Casino", Howard's notes cut sharp and stab harder than Detroit's mean backstreets. He performs them in a timing that emphasizes the reap-what-you-sow lyrics: 'what's done in the dark, sooner or later, bound to come to the light.' "Champagne (Cheap Bottle Of Wine)" is up-tempo, super lively and humorous in its own way. Shah's harp is high-pitched on this repetitious-rhythmed entrapment. However, the words are too few and get repeated too often. The title track and "Hey Detroit" are full tilt instrumentals. On the latter, Shah swings and twirls the notes out and achieves great tone. The entire band gets a chance at the spotlight with the rhythm section getting exceptionally heavy and hearty.
You will hear customary blues riffs and street-wise lyrics played downhome, greasy and bluntly in a more traditional fashion which is surely not to be considered contemporary. Just how coarse are these blues? Blues Revue magazine described them as barbed wire raw. Listen to the bleak groove of "Bumpity Bump" with its sexual text, earth tone harp and cutting guitar and you will understand. You won't find anything shiny on this disc because no polish or wax was used by Glazer in its production. Years of caked on grit and grime is the secret of its success as described by Shah, 'I don't like no clean blues . hard, deep down in the dirt, . that's what I prefer.' As the nasty king of raw energy blues, Harmonica Shah will make you get down. This disc is living proof that hard edged Detroit blues is still alive and well!
For CDs, booking and information, write to: Electro-Fi Records, PO Box 191, LaSalle Station, Niagara Falls, NY 14304 Tel (416) 251-3036. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.electrofi.com Artist website: www.harmonicashah.com
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