The Blue Chieftains

...That's All

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Calling the Blue Chieftains "the greatest country-blues-rock band that ever existed" (as some nameless soul does while introducing the band on this live disc) might be going just a bit far to make a point, but anyone who's heard them knows that description isn't all that far off the mark. The Blue Chieftains were titans of the East Coast's roots rock scene, holding down a Sunday night residency at New York City's Continental Club that lasted several years and cutting a pair of well-loved singles for the Diesel Only label, but the band never scored an album deal and called it a day in 1993 without a full-length to their credit. In 1997, the band got back together to play a reunion show at New York's Coney Island High, and ...That's All preserves on disc 78 minutes worth of that nearly three-hour show. And it was a show well worth hearing -- Tim Carroll was (and remains) a triple-threat talent as a blazing guitarist, sharp vocalist, and world-class songwriter; Stephen B. Antonakos was a superb foil on slide guitar (and not a bad singer himself); and bassist Scott Yoder and drummer Mark Horn were a hot and thankfully tireless rhythm section. Whether they were playing hot-wired rock & roll, C&W shuffles, loose and loaded R&B, or even cutting the funk (it actually happens), the Blue Chieftains sounded sharp and committed while also having a hell of a good time, and ...That's All captures them in their native environment, ripping it up in a crowded bar in front of a well-oiled crowd (who can often be heard singing along -- pretty amazing since most of these songs were never on an album). The originals are superb (especially "(She Just Know) Good Rock From Bad," "If I Could, Then I Would," and "I Think Hank Woulda Done It This Way"), the covers are brilliantly chosen and heroically performed ("Tequila" and "She Belongs to Me" on the same album), the band is on fire at all times, and with ...That's All as evidence, the Blue Chieftains prove they were one of the few bands who truly gave NRBQ a run for the title of The World's Greatest Bar Band. Play it loud, pour a beverage, and you've got a party started.

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