Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Otis "Tough Times" (Guest Post)

Tribute to John Brim

Lucky for us, "guest
contributor" Michelle
Wilson recently has
come down with a
bona fide case of the
blues. Dig if you will, 
her latest discovery...

Hardcore fans of Chicago Blues likely would agree that guitarist / singer John Brim was one of the most prolific yet least acknowledged musicians of the 50s blues landscape. Brim’s early intrigue with blues was steeped in the sounds of  Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red, to name but a few. As he quickly honed his skill, he would go on to play along side these two early influences, as well as other iconic bluesmen, including Muddy WatersLittle Walter Jacobs and Albert King.
Born and bred in Brim’s home state of Kentucky, the band Otis proudly pays homage to the late, great legend with this 10-track powerhouse of tightly mixed and produced Brim classics. Singer / guitarist Boone Froggett, along with guitarist / backing vocalist Steve Jewell, bassist John Seeley and drummer Andrew Gilpin credit Muddy Waters, slide virtuoso Elmore James, The Allman Brothers Band  and Wet Willie with sparking their passion for blues and Southern roots rock. Co-produced by Otis and Greg Martin of The Kentucky Headhunters, who also plays slide on a handful of selections, these down and dirty, up-tempo, bluesy rock renditions offer a fresh take on a vintage sound. Also thrown into the mix on several cuts is the legendary Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie and his killer harmonica.
OTIS on Facebook
With Froggett’s gravelly, soulful vocals accompanied by the group’s transcendent playing skills, it’s not difficult to draw comparisons to Gregg and Duane Allman. Otis breathes new life into such Brim staples as “Rattlesnake,” “Tough Times,” “It Was a Dream,” “Life Time Baby,” “Be Careful” and “Got Me Where You Want Me.” Undeniably the most well-known Brim-penned song, Otis’ version of “Ice Cream Man” blows Van Halen’s straight out of the water.

These boys in Otis are the real deal and this collection is nothing short of a brilliant labor of love. They’ve done John Brim proud, and I personally look forward to hearing their original material.

-Michelle Wilson
(July 2014)

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