Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#737 in the Series) is The 44s, Americana (Rip Cat Records)
Not since Rickey Henderson has there been a better lead-off batter than “Hanging Tree,” the opening track from the new 44s’ Album, Americana, recently released on Rip Cat Records. The song, “Hanging Tree,” tears into it loud and proud, and shares the same DNA with the ZZ Top classic, “La Grange.” The in-your-face guitar riffs, courtesy of Johnny Main, also the lead vocalist, and the dirty blues harmonica blasts of Tex “The Weeping Willow” Nakamura set the blueprint quite nicely, and provide an appealing first impression of this excellent record for the listener, many of whom are experiencing this band for the very first time.
Stylistically, the band occupies that eclectic space between ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters. The song, “Dixie,” has a touch of Asleep at the Wheel in it, and with the down deep in the range vocals, it could have been sung by a middle of his career Johnny Cash. The song, written by the 44s, would have been right in the “Man in Black’s” wheelhouse, and a duet of this tune with Jerry Lee Lewis would have been crazy cool. As it is, this song is a standout, although there is no need to “go ugly early” in this honky-tonk as every song is prime-cut and top-notch.
Kid Ramos, best known for his work with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, produced the album along with providing some guitar cameos, and David Z did the knob twirling in the mixing room. Having earned his credentials working with such blues luminaries as Etta James, Buddy Guy, and John Mayall, the Z man has come upon his sound honestly, and has created an album that not only has the sound and texture of a live album, but could have been recorded in the bluest of blues joints. The brilliant and guttural harmonica histrionics, especially on “99 to life” and “Mr. Highwayman” makes one wonder if Tex Nakamura and Little Walter aren’t twin sons of different mothers.
The song writing on this album, mostly credited to the band members themselves, is expectantly solid with woman done me wrong songs, “She’s Poison,” women are my downfall songs “Cocaine”, your love is like cocaine all it takes is one time, your love is like whiskey all it takes is one sip, longing for women songs, “You’ll Be Mine,” and baby take me back songs, “Hold On”, hold on mama, baby give me one more try/ hold on mama give your daddy one more try/ I’m going to love you baby till the day I die, that features a couple of mournful sax interludes that perfectly complement the despair in the voice of the man that has just lost his true love. To play the blues, you have to live the blues, and these guys seem to be about as honest as it gets.
If there is truth in music, like there is truth in this record, The 44s will soon become a household name. And if there is none, if there is no truth in music, I’ll just grab a cigar and a bottle of whiskey, put this sucker on repeat, turn up the volume to 11, and the rest of the world can kiss my ass.
- Hanging Tree
- Lady Luck
- She’s Poison
- Pleading My Case
- Mr. Operator
- You’ll Be Mine
- Slip Slidn’ Thang
- 99 to Life
- Hard Times
- Mr. Highway Man
- Hold On
- Kid Ramos – Dobro, Guitar, Horn Arrangements, Pipe
- Ron Dziubla – Horn, Horn Arrangementsl
Here’s some live 44s and Kid Ramos!