Joe Houston

Kicking Back

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Joe Houston cut Kicking Back for Big Town in 1978, which explains why the record kicks off with two songs with "disco" in their titles. It also explains why the entirety of the album grooves to rhythms that are fairly stiff even when they're nominally funky. Only the two-part title track gets close to fulfilling that funky promise, thanks to disco-fied hi-hats and tidal waves of wah-wah guitar. It sounds like the theme song to a B-grade cop show and it's the only moment on Kicking Back that retains some tacky period charm. The rest is a period piece in an unfortunate sense -- cheaply made, slightly behind the times, lacking any sense of taste, even a bad one -- but Houston acquits himself reasonably well, still sounding big, raunchy, and swinging. Too bad you have to listen through his surroundings to hear how well he plays.

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