"Cool Disposition" (released in 1997) is Mischo's fourth album, and his second for the German Crosscut label. The album was recorded live in the studio, with the exception of one or two vocals. As a result, it only took two days to record, but there's no need to worry because "Cool Disposition" sees Mischo and his band living up to their name.
"Cool Disposition" shows the high standards Mischo has reached after 20 years as a singer, harp player and songwriter. Most of the songs are Mischo originals, and the choice of covers reflects the influences of Sonny Boy Williamson II and Howlin' Wolf. So there's a cracking version of the Wolf's "(Everybody's) In The Mood" to get things rolling. This is later followed by a broadcastable version of SBW's infamous "Little Village," which includes possibly the most ludicrous couplet of any Blues song: "Too small to be a village/Not large enough to be no town." There's also a nod in the direction of Sun Records, with the inclusion of Junior Parker's "Love My Baby."
Some of the original tunes also reflect Mischo's influences. A classic case is "Get Your Money" which strongly reflects the SBW II influence. Mischo is no mere copyist, however, as he ably demonstrates on tracks like "Second Wind," the classy "Taste of My Own Medicine," and the excellent romping harp work-out of "Main Street Strut," where Mischo never seems to surface for air.
The music reflects Mischo's travels, mostly fitting somewhere between Chicago and West Coast Blues. The basic line-up is pure Chicago (where the album was recorded), including Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, who gets a turn in the spotlight on harp and piano duel of "Dangerous Boy." The Chicago feel that dominates the album is never allowed to become too formulaic, however, and there's plenty of contrast offered by some jazzy West Coast chording from Jeremy Johnson.
Measured by any standards, "Cool Disposition" is a very good album. It will appeal to fans of both Chicago and West Coast Blues. The band sit firmly in Rod Piazza territory, although the Chicago influences show through stronger in Mischo's work. On the evidence of "Cool Disposition," however, Mischo gets my vote over Piazza's latest stuff. I'm eagerly looking forward to hearing Mischo's first release since moving to the West Coast ("West Wind Blowin'") but, in the meantime, "Cool Disposition" will do very nicely.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.