If you are looking to add some Texas/Louisiana Blues to your collection, "Lone Star Shootout" is a great place to start. It brings together three friends and veterans of the scene, who, although they may have spent considerable time elsewhere, can definitely still cut it in the Gulf Coast style. There's also the added bonus of Ervin Charles, who played with Hunter in the 1950's, on a couple of tracks. Charles is something of a local guitar legend, and would surely have achieved wider recognition if he had traveled more widely.
To do full justice to the album would require an individual review of each track, because there's such a variety in the band line-ups and material. The continual changes make no difference to the results though--it's top drawer stuff right from the off (Brooks' "Roll, Roll, Roll"), which is one of only three tracks where Brooks, Hunter and Walker all play together.
When an album is this good it makes it difficult to pick out a best track. There is a handful of tracks that are worthy of extra special mention, though. The first of these is "Boogie Rambler" which features Walker and Brooks, and has a great swinging brass section on a song that was a hit for Gatemouth Brown back in the 1950's. The second is "Alligators Around My Door," a new tune, featuring Hunter and Brooks. Although it was inspired by the alligators that still lurk in the bayous, it doesn't take too much effort to work out that there's more than one type of alligator at work here. Then on "Street Walking Woman", Walker and Hunter get to conduct a guitar battle at the end of another song that really swings.
The two other outstanding tracks both feature Ervin Charles. The first of these, "Born in Louisiana," gives us a chance to hear why everyone in Port Arthur looked up to Charles. The second is a cover of Muddy Waters' "Two Trains Running." This was the only song cut at a different session, and has Charles and Hunter replaying their trademark song from their days in The Hollywood Bearcats, where the band consisted of two guitars and drums. It's a fine way to close out the album, and shows that forty-something years on, the chemistry between the two is as strong as ever.
Brooks, Hunter and Walker (and let's not forget Charles too) are all very fine guitarists. This album shows them at the peak of their powers. It also provides a handy reminder of the breadth of the music. All in all, "Lone Star Shootout" is a great album, and should be added to your list of essential purchases.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.