Monday, June 4, 2012
A Quick Burst of Blues - Featuring Geoff Abraham, Fast Johnny Ricker, and Jason Ager & the C.O.P.D.,
Man, this CD had been sitting on my desk for so long, I have no idea how it even got there. But within seconds of that first garage-y blitz, I knew this disc was gonna take a revered place in my CD collection. Hell yes! From the first swirling, frenetic moments of opening cut, "The Carrot and the Stick" I knew I'd stumbled upon a treasure. Simple, almost rudimentary (as all good garage rock should be) the irrepressible beat married to that, funky-blast-from the garage, "Carrot" got me hooked right away. Best of all though was the way the chorus broke down in to that swirling whirlpool of a descending riff. Freak-tastic.
Turns out Geoff Abraham is no newbie to the scene, having jammed with Peter Wolf, Slash, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robin Zander and the Cars. He's opened for the Black Crowes, Alic Cooper, Bad Company amongst others. Hmmm. Makes sense. Perfect melody like Cheap Trick, bluesy like the Thunderbirds, soulful like Peter Wolf. Yep, it's all there. "Let it all Ride" proves right away that this CD ain't no one trick pony. Dirty, almost filthy, deep in the garage, sultry blues. Not to be missed.
This CD arrived at Ripple North with a hand-scrawled note from Fast Johnny and reference to his good friends and playing buddies the JPT Scare Band, and sure enough, there's our mad Dr. Bomar, Paul Grigsby mentioned right there in the "thanks" section. Well, Fast Johnny certainly knew that way to get his disc from the mailbox to my ear --mentioning Ripple favorites (and recording artist) JPT has that power. And thank God Fast Johnny did. Otherwise I may have missed out on this treat.
Blues is the name of the game here. Psychedelic, heavy, and full of more soul than a thousand White Stripes or Black Keys. Wah'ed out guitars, feedback flourishes, soaring squeals and bending notes. Johnny masters that guitar like a blacksmith masters metal--add a little fire, and he can get it bend and mold into any shape he desires. "Arise and Dig" is a prime example of acetylene torch blues, from it's intro smoking riff through the blistering acid-blues meat of the song. "Electric Rain" brings a shade of that red-hot burning acid-tinged metallic edge, while "Back to Mystery" takes on a psychedelic voyage that'd make even the JPT boys proud.
The guy's got a blues pedigree an arm long, and I got a feeling he ain't even reached halfway. If you like your blues drenched in acid and colored in psychedelia, Fast Johnny Ricker may just be your man.
I've been digging Jason Ager's brand of G. Love and the Special Sauce, urban funky blues since he dropped his first EP, Lunchdate. Back then I spouted that Jason was blessed with a voice that just oozes soul the way BP oozes oil. Yep, that's still true. With his backing crew C.O.P. D. Sheri Walsh and Austin O'Connor, Jason opens his sweaty palms and releases another set of funky, hip-hop tinged blues.
One of the things I love about Jason, is that he really takes his time with his tunes, allowing them to breathe and grow. No rush, no hurry. "The Fishin' Jawn" just drips out on the back of some fine acoustic strumming and some electric fills until that gentle beat kicks in. Just downhome blues and funky through and through, as he equates playing for an audience to a day fishing. "The Indian" brings in some tasty Rhodes organ and a jazzy/jammy feel for a perfect moment of chilled out bliss. "Closer to the Bone," also brings on some big juicy funk. Other cuts like "The Indian" and The Girlfriend Song" slip into a mellower vibe, primarily acoustic tracks focusing more on Jason's voice than the beat, with nice results.
Gotta be honest, Born to Surf didn't grab me quite as quickly as Lunchdate did. For what ever reason, the first song/title cut just doesn't click with me, and overall we're a bit mellower here than we were on Lunchdate. And I liked the beats on that EP. But after repeated listens, I can hear the subtlety of what Jason is doing. I'd love to see him stretch himself out a bit more on his next album, but Born to Surf should satisfy his fans until then.