Harmonica ace Smoky Greenwell and guitarist Jack Kolb originally intended this to be a tribute to legendary Excello recording artist Lonesome Sundown. That explains the trio of Sundown covers heard here, including the swing-crazy “I Had a Dream Last Night” and the slow groover “Lonesome Lonely Blues,” featuring Joe Krown’s tinkling high ivories. But eventually Greenwell, Kolb and bassist David Hyde realized that they, too, are part of the indigenous tradition and hence, the broadened theme.
Though the disc opens with Greenwell’s philosophical “Animal Angels,” the third tune, “Boogie Twist,” could have been the leadoff track since it’s so hair-raising with slamming rides from Kolb, ex-Allman Brother Johnny Neel (keys) and Greenwell (harmonica/sax).
Still, it works as implemented. Greenwell’s best mouth organ performance is on “Pick It Up” where he practically works himself into a mind-numbing trance. While he’s one of the best harp players around, he’s also among the first tier of blues saxophonists, as evidenced by his commanding playing on Lee Allen’s rollicking “Walking with Mr. Lee.”
Moreover, it’s just a fun disc—period. Greenwell’s drawly/talking vocals on “Two Headed Woman” are much more lighthearted than how Junior Wells sounded on the original, while Kolb leverages the chiming chords of Earl Hooker to bell-ringing infectious. And speaking of Kolb, his instrumental “The Hunch” is transformed into a funky Memphis strut with Neel’s behind-the-beat B3 squelchings. Greenwell’s best all-around effort yet.