Bob "Catfish" Hodge

Different Strokes: The Complete East & Westbound Recordings

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There were plenty of white-boy blues singers in the late '60s and early '70s, and Bob "Catfish" Hodge was one of them. A native of Detroit, he later left the Motor City and gained some success as a children's singer, but the music on Ace's 2014 double-disc collection Different Strokes: The Complete Eastbound & Westbound Recordings is cut from a different cloth: it's lively, sometimes lewd boogie and funky blues; music from a hippie getting down and dirty. Hodge cut two albums for Eastbound and one for Westbound and they're both here, along with three previously unheard outtakes and a non-LP B-side. The first two, Boogie Man I Gonna Get Ya and Dynasaurs & Alleycats, were recorded in Detroit and are cut from the same cloth, presenting wide-open, slightly loose jams on classic blues songs and plenty of originals from Hodges. These are funkier and wilder than expected, undone slightly by a little bit of jive talk in the lyrics and the singing. The third album, Soap Opera's, was cut in the Los Angeles and it shows its West Coast origins in its slickness -- a patina of mellowness (witness the mellow acoustic revision of the Stones' "It's All Over Now") colored with fuzz guitars and studio professionals. From the exuberant Detroit jams to the sun-bleached blues, all of this music is very, very much of its time; it's the twilight of the hippie blues, swept up in the changes of the '70s even when its heart is in the '60s.

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