Inspired by the Supreme Court’s frightful Citizen’s United ruling, Smoky Greenwell takes a stand on the rollicking title track that rightfully protests corporate money influence in elections. A lot of things about 99% Blues align with today’s political climate, such as the Occupy (99%) Movement reference, as well as the eight alternating vocalists (including salsa king Fredy Omar) symbolizing solidarity and strength in numbers. (The enhanced version of the CD includes the YouTube video of “99% Blues.”)
Though the title track is the primary focus, this is hardly a one-hit album with the rest of
it being filler. Of the remaining band originals, the slow howling “My Own Blues Club” chronicles Greenwell’s short-lived Frenchmen Street watering hole while guitarist Jack Kolb’s soul-jazz instrumental “Heavy Sugar” struts with a funky lilt.
As an instrumentalist, Greenwell poses a double threat, swinging hard on harmonica (“Power of Now”) and often having cosmic moments as a sax jazzman. Additionally, it never hurts to have former Allman Brother Johnny Neel’s brilliant rides on piano and B3 organ to keep the temperature rising. Good grooves abound, even on something that’s as overly familiar as the “Peter Gunn Theme.” With Greenwell’s take-charge sax wailings, it’s performed so well that it has to be the hippest rendition of the detective show theme song yet. Here, 99% Blues translates as 100% groovy.