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Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Method to My Madness

By Richard Ludmerer
In CD Reviews INDIE Blues
Nov 3rd, 2015

ALCD 4967

ALCD 4967

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers

Method to My Madness

Alligator Records

Tommy Castro has been nominated for twelve Blues Music Awards winning “Album of The Year” for both 2007’s “Painkiller” on Blind Pig Records and 2009’s “Hard Believer” on Alligator Records.  As a result Castro was also named “B.B. King Entertainer of The Year” in both 2008 and 2010. Overall Castro has won six Blues Music Awards. Castro’s last recording was 2014’s “The Devil You Know” also on Alligator.

On “Method to My Madness” the Painkillers are Castro guitar and vocals; Randy McDonald, bass; and the two newest members Michael Emerson, keyboards; and Bowen Brown, drums. Castro opens with “Common Ground”, a plea for social unity, and the first of ten new originals. It and the title track “Method to My Madness” were co-authored with Kevin Bowe.

“Shine a Light” and “Died and Gone to Heaven” were co-written with Ron Alan Cohen. The former includes the lyric “shine the light so I can find my way”.  Castro is once again a “soul shaker” as the bands new sound is closer to gospel tinged soul blues than to blues rock. While Emerson’s B-3 playing gives these songs that gospel feeling the rhythm section of McDonald and Brown keep pushing Castro forward. Castro’s crisp rhythm guitar lines and soulful vocals have never been better. This is a great band. Indeed there is a method to Castro’s madness.

“Ride” is from Castro and bassist Randy McDonald. It has a film noir sound and could be used in an episode of FX’s Fargo. Castro has also collaborated with two of his Alligator label mates. “Lose, Lose” was written with Joe Louis Walker; while “All About the Cash” was conceived by him and Rick Estrin.

Castro also includes two fantastic covers. “I’m Qualified” was written by Rick Hall and recorded in 1968 by Clarence Carter at The Fame Studios. The other cover is B.B. Kings “Bad Luck” which is a fitting tribute to King who early on asked Castro to be his opening act.

“Method to My Madness” compares well with Castro’s best. This recording should place Castro back on top where he belongs.

Richard Ludmerer







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