The Bluesmasters Featuring Mickey Thomas

The Bluesmasters / Mickey Thomas

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The Bluesmasters Featuring Mickey Thomas Review

by Michael G. Nastos

Known for his work with Jefferson Starship on their biggest hit ("We Built This City"), vocalist Mickey Thomas gives the blues a go via this recording in tandem with the Bluesmasters. Though there's an obligatory pop song added (Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around & Fell in Love"), the group and Thomas mostly cover classic electric Chicago blues tunes, done well but not spectacularly. Thomas sounds best when he's not yelling or screaming out the lyrics, and in fact, is more effective when he takes off his rock & roll overcoat and digs into a lower octave voice that works better. Doug Lynn's harmonica playing is outstanding on the choogling Chicago blues standard of Muddy Waters' "Rock Me Baby," Tim Tucker gets down on slide guitar for the famous Robert Johnson evergreen "Walkin' Blues" and slow, eight-minute "Third Degree," while Magic Slim guests during the lesser-known Waters' tune "Can't Get No Grindin', and the odd selection of the Phil Collins' faux-juke joint song "Get Your Business Straight. Thomas himself is in good form and company, more comfy in the New Orleans rock/pop confines of Chris Kenner and Dave Bartholomew's "Sick & Tired," but overall, he's competent in singing the blues he has clearly always loved. The ace in the hole for this date is the legendary drummer Aynsley Dunbar, heard throughout the date laying down his reliably strong and thoroughly professional beats. Whether a follow-up recording or tour is in the offering does not diminish this meeting of the minds as Mickey Thomas seeks acceptance on another level besides extravagant stadium rock, one aimed in a more soul-sending direction.

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