Dedicated to late San Francisco blues heroes Stu Blank and John Lee Hooker and featuring Hooker's final vocal appearance, Guilty of Love (33rd Street Records) holds the promise of something special. Unfortunately, it's a bit flat, lacking the fire you might expect. While Castro's material is eclectic and clever, incorporating rock, soul, R&B, and roots, it's not always above cliché. Also, some tracks are given a subdued, if not sluggish treatment. "Face of Love," for example, is more low key than low down. The Otis Redding-styled "Whole Lot of Soul" doesn't pack a wallop, either. Castro does turn it up on the roots rocker "Shakin' the Good Hard Times Loose," sounding like a cross between Delbert McClinton and James Brown. And the good-time closer, "If You Aint Lovin, You Aint Livin," bringing to mind Bobby Bland, is genuinely fun and cool. Fittingly, Stu Blank, who sadly succumbed to cancer in 2001, gives the most memorable performance with his "Dirt Road Blues." This charged final performance on tape between Blank and Castro finally has some of the emotion and intensity that Castro brings to his famous club dates.
AllMusic Review by William Meyer