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Boom Boom Steve V & the Knockouts|
Review Date: Oct, 2009
by Eric Steiner
Washington State Bluesletter
From the opening original tune “Come Out Swinging” to the set-ending “Sad Hours,” Tuff Love offers up 10 cuts of harp-fueled blues courtesy of “Boom Boom Steve,” one of the mainstays on the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota blues scene. In 1952, Little Walter had a number one hit with “Juke,” and “Sad Hours” landed in second place on the charts that same year. I especially liked the fat-toned, upbeat “When I Was Young,” and the straight-ahead driving blues of the title cut; proof positive that Steve V & the Knockouts are in full command of some tasty original blues mixed in with a few reverential covers. The engine room of Dwight Dario on drums and John Schroder on bass keep the groove moving, and when they aren’t playing as Knockouts, they’re behind local blues players like the Twin Cities’ Big George Jackson. Guitarist John Franken, an alumnus of the local Joel Johnson Band, expertly plays a number of styles on this CD, from Texas-tinged blues, post-war Chicago blues, and the West Coast-flavored “From Stardom to Obscurity” – while I’ve never heard John play before, I think that he’d be considered a “guitarists’ guitarist” for his diverse approaches to the blues. Guest Knockouts include Bruce McCabe on piano and Wurlitzer (this Lamont Cranston veteran burns up the keys on Lester Butler’s “HNC”), Jeremy Johnson on guitar on the covers of Little Walter’s “Sad Hours” and “Come Back Baby,” and Mark “Good Time” Williams pitching in background vocals on the title tune. Tuff Love offers up a great set of blues, and I highly recommend this CD. The CD closes with a nod to Little Walter, with Boom Boom Steve taking the Mississippi saxophone to new heights on the “Sad Hours” instrumental. I’d like to think that Little Walter would have appreciated and enjoyed this cover, and I can’t give it any higher praise than that. A solid blues record from an accomplished band. – Eric Steiner
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