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Chris Duarte
"Tailspin Headwhack" CD Review
01241-41611-2 1997 Zomba Recording Corp., Silvertone Records, 10 tracks, 53 minutes
by Ann Wickstrom

If you like your blues smooth, laid-back and predictable, this one's not for you. But if you're in the mood for something original, rockin', and more than just a little off-kilter, Duarte delivers it with "Tailspin Headwhack." Although more produced than 1994's "Texas Sugar Strat Magik", this release-Duarte's second-has depths ranging from the raucous to the spacey.

Duarte is a bit of a chameleon in terms of his vocals. At times he's gruff and edgy; at other times, a lilting tenor (he could be mistaken for Robben Ford on the title track). On guitar, you'll find that Duarte is very adept at alternating between lead lines and bassy fills. His strings always sound as though they've just been changed and are loosely wound, yet still in tune. You will also notice, in a few spots, that there's a whole lotta Stevie Ray goin' on.

You know you're in for a rockin' ride when you hear the first cut, "Cleopatra", loaded with those bass-heavy guitar licks and a steady rap on the cowbell. There are a few tunes that don't "rock", such as a long, moody, haunting version of "The Thrill is Gone" with a strong keyboard presence, and the last cut, "Walls", is dark and disturbing.

When I first heard the name "Tailspin Headwhack", I thought it was strange. But after listening to this CD I think the name is perfect. It leaves you feeling as if you've done a 360 or two. Chris Duarte clearly has no inhibitions when it comes to stretching out, going to the edge and, at times, going over the top. He is one of the contemporary blues/rock players who we will be looking to for new and innovative sounds for (hopefully) many years.

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Copyright 1997, 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.

Copyright 1997, 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.