Michael Burks relishes his role of being a road-dog so much, he forgets the time he should be devoted to making new music in the studio.
A performer known for giving marathon sets of music that could leave other musicians drained, Michael Burks doesnt hold back as he unleashes torrential blues licks underscored by soulful vocals. His road band are seasoned veterans who can keep up with their boss in sheer adrenaline factors.
It is the very same musicians who lend their support on Burks' latest cd Ironman. Clocking in at little more then an hour, there's enough hot licks on this puppy to satisfy hard-nosed skeptics. Of course the likelihood Burks would have any doubters at all is slim to none. Ever since he began his career with Alligator Records, he has laid nothing but serious grooves on his cds. There isn't a big catalog to choose from. But for what does exist is always a morsel of heavy-handed blues rockin soul.
And it continues on in Ironman. Opening track "Love Disease" flys out of the starting gate like an F7 tornado wrecking havoc in the Midwest. The slide work in "Strange Feeling" is intoxicating enough as a double shot of Jack Daniels. And Burks bares his soul in the painful "Empty Promises" that outright smokes in its solos.
Burks is know for being a Les Paul man. On this cd, he seems more intent on cooking up Albert Collins licks that find a home in the up-beat shuffle of "No More Crying." Actually the ghost of Albert Collins turns up all over the songs. Making its presence felt notably in "Ashes In My Ashtray" that finds Burks accusing his woman of doing him wrong.
As in his previous cd releases, Burks loves to tackle the song themes of redemption, being done wrong, finding his way and being reborn. It may be familiar ground. But it is instantly forgivable particularly in "Icepick Through My Heart" that finds Michael once again sermonizing with his guitar to exorcise the demons of betrayal.
The tracks are proportioned well enough so there aren't too many slow tunes that can be dead weight. The diesel fuel making "Love Disease" erupt makes "Quiet Little Town" race like a big Mack on an open road. "Changed Man" co-written with Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer is the final cut swinging with its Elmore James shuffle like a blue flame eating a cat's tail.
Capturing the spirit of Burks' live performances certainly isn't an easy task. Only Bruce Iglauer can pull it off with the best results. Lets just hope Michael can visit the recording studio once every couple of years. The only good thing when Burks doesn't pump out a product is that he doesn't overstay his welcome.