This newest release from Howard & the White Boys, "The Big Score," is their first on the Evidence label. The presentation of is light hearted and fun with photos of the band in period clothing on the liner notes which fold out to look like a movie poster. They're serious about their music though, even when the lyrics are a bit tongue in cheek as in "Leave The Lights On" and "It's All You." By and large the tunes are a mix of harder edged funk and rock influenced blues, as well as some more traditional sounding arrangements. Still, nearly all the tunes are dance numbers designed to get you out of your chair.
Featured on "The Big Score" is Howard McCullum on bass and vocals, Rocco Calipari on guitar, Jim "Bucka" Christopulos, and Dan Bellini on guitar and harmonica.
Howard & the White Boys are from Chicago where they are regulars at Buddy Guy's Legends. One big score they made for this CD is cameo appearance by Buddy on a cover of Sam and Dave's "I Thank You." Buddy shares vocal duty with Howard and burns through a guitar solo and a whole bunch of fills. There's some really unique single-string stuff going on here. Well done.
Other highlights include "Trouble Follows You" and "You'll Come Back," both are powerful grooves with tough harp or guitar solos, and story telling lyrics. Both of these tunes should attract airplay.
This is a very strong offering from Howard & the White Boys. The group has come along way in defining themselves. With "The Big Score," they've clearly staked their claim deep in heart of contemporary blues territory.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Pete Meyer, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.