From the first time I listened to "Texas Thunder Blues," there was no doubt that Lightning Red was a Texas guitar slinger, even without the obvious clue in the title of the recording. Lightning Red plays and sings his way through eleven songs on the CD ranging from original material to covers of tunes from Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Eddie Boyd and even the late singer for The Doors, Jim Morrison. Overall, the end result is one pretty good CD.
Notable on all of the tunes is the fact that Red has an interesting voice, though not powerful, and the songs are more driven by his fine guitar. Red is backed on the CD by Steve Johnson (drums); Jay Stevenson (bass); and Rick Peerrone (harmonica). Peerrone represents a significant asset to the sound developed by the band, especially on songs like Slim Harpo's, "Scratch My Back," which features some nice harp work by Peerrone.
"Texas Thunder Blues" opens with a Lightning Red original entitled "Big Time," featuring some excellent guitar work. Red's well played guitar licks continue on Eddie Boyd's, "Five Long Years" and continue throughout most of the recording. The CD hits a rare low spot on "Riders On The Storm," which does not have near the emotional charge of The Doors original. As Red moves into his second of four original tunes on the CD, "Endless Boogie," the band regains its momentum. After a nice version of Willie Dixon's, "Hoochie Coochie Man," Red puts together two more original tunes, "Goin On" and "Lost My Baby," that are well done and include more nice harp by Rick Peerrone. The CD ends with the Don Nix tune, "Goin' Down," done in a slower tempo and very different from the better known version by Freddie King.
All in all, if you like Texas style guitar blues, you will probably enjoy "Texas Thunder Blues" by Lightning Red. With a tight band and that Texas guitar sound, Red will make you feel like you are having a cool one in an Austin, Texas blues bar on Saturday night.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.