Popa Chubby

Universal Breakdown Blues

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AllMusic Review by

Unhappy with what he sees as an uncertain era, Popa Chubby aggressively delivers the Universal Breakdown Blues ("A shakedown you can use") on this 2013 release, but the end message is one of hope. Still, it takes a lot of shouting, screaming, and intense blues rock to get there, beginning with the hard-rocking, boogie blues opener “I Don’t Want Nobody,” where Hammond organist Dave Keyes gives the funky support over which Chubby churns out the riffs. Later, there’s the title track where Chubby’s love of Hendrix-styled playing meets his socially conscious and socially disgusted lyrics, plus the shuffling breakup number “69 Dollars,” where an ex’s weekend whiskey bill is added up, but the key cut has to be the epic “Over the Rainbow,” delivered in a version that evolves so significantly, it could very well be called a “suite.” That stellar cover is a giant step forward for Chubby, and he’s not one known for his love of growth and progress, but if sneering at giving the people what they want, or doing what you do best is an issue, then this ain’t your Popa. Chubby’s fans can think of it as the album with a little more social commentary, plus the usual guts and grit, or standard issue but quite satisfying.

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