Bill Wharton is a little bit like a blues version of NRBQ. Depending on where you drop the needle, er... push the button, you're either going to hear some serious craziness or some extraordinary playing, often both at the same time. The opening "She's A Monkey" is so deep into grooveland that even a Neville Brother couldn't bring it back. "Ten Foot Pole," which is about, well it's about 4 minutes long -- has a jungle truckin' feel to it, and "Little Brother" is a guitar and organ rocking number that burns with kerosene. And that's just the first three tunes. This is a sizzler for 41 minutes and change.
"Unplug The Blues" and "Your Maytag Done Broke Down," a pair of tunes that refuse to take themselves seriously, feature his very impressive slide work. "Take This Hammer" sounds a little like prime-time Little Feat, "Hanging With The Band" has a riff that reminds of "Crossroads," and the acoustic work on "Smackers" is just jaw-dropping good.
Not one to bypass a good gimmick, Wharton's dual persona as musician and The Sauce Boss has served his rep well. He reportedly cooks it up, literally, on stage. During the performance he keeps a pot of gumbo going, stirring it between tunes, and then sets it out for everyone with an appetite at the end of the show. "Biblical in proportion," the liners say, "during the last decade, the Sauce Boss has fed over 60,000 people." Whew! As good as the food might be, and it sure sounds like it is, the music is a first-rate feast.
This is an enhanced CD. I couldn't open mine. Too bad, because I just know there was some multimedia recipes that would have put a smile on my face to equal the smile my ears got from the audio portion of the show.
A very tasty collection, indeed.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.