You Can't Keep a Big Man Down

Big Joe & the Dynaflows

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

You Can't Keep a Big Man Down Review

by Hal Horowitz

The title track is somewhat autobiographical as Joe Maher returns to the recording studio after health problems have kept him sidelined since his previous album, also on the Severn label, nearly 11 years ago. But since Maher's chosen genre of jump blues and boogie-woogie isn't exactly contemporary or subject to trends, little other than some more gray hairs on the singer/drummer's head has changed on this long-awaited return. Its mix of rocking, predominantly upbeat, often humorous retro-blues/jazz-swing blues makes another quality entry into his catalog of like-minded releases that stretch back to his debut solo outing in 1990. Maher's in fine vocal form with a resemblance to Delbert McClinton on this set of a dozen tunes, half of which are originals. He digs deep into the catalogs of his influences, unearthing seldom-heard gems from Johnny Green ("Someday"), B.B. King ("Bad Case of Love"), Jimmy McCracklin, Jay McShann, and he even covers McClinton for a rollicking "What the Hell Were You Thinkin'." Keyboardist Kevin McKendree from McClinton's band further cements the connection. His work, along with guitarist Rob McNelley, is what drives this version of the Dynaflows, enhanced occasionally by the late Dennis Taylor's honking saxophone. As one of the few vocalist/drummers, he lays back on the latter but motors his way through the disc's only instrumental, the appropriately titled "Supercharger." A few ballads like his newly penned "Nothin' but Trouble" seem like oldies composed by one of the genre's standard bearers, Big Joe Turner'; a compliment to Maher's songwriting and arranging skills. His genial, blue collar persona helps propel the plainspoken "Face the Facts," a guitar riff-driven corker that's likely a crowd pleaser when played live. There are no surprises here, which is to be expected from a sound that dates back to the '40s, but Maher's exuberant, strutting personality and veteran top-shelf band keep the fire burning for 40 minutes of good-natured, party-time fun.

blue highlight denotes track pick