Twist The Knife
Rip Cat Records
The Los Angeles based 44’s caused quite a stir when they released their debut recording “Boogie Disease” in 2011. The album was produced by ex-Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Kid Ramos who also played on four tracks. They followed up with 2012’s “Americana”; and a 2015 live set called “44’s On The 13th”. This is the band’s fourth release.
The current lineup includes bandleader Johnny Main, vocals and guitar; Eric Von Herzen (who can also be heard with The Atomic Road Kings), harmonica; Mike Hightower, bass; Gary Ferguson, drums; and guitarist Junior Watson.
Main states “When you get right down to it, this album is about perseverance, I was at a point where I had to decide whether or not to keep going, to keep the band alive. All those guys we look up to, like Muddy, Wolf, Albert Collins, Lightnin’ Hopkins….they kept going right up until they died. I want this record to serve as a tribute to them, their inspiration is why I started this band almost 20 years ago, and it’s what keeps driving me today.”
The opener “Cutting Deep” is an original instrumental written by Main and features him on lead guitar; Main’s playing here reminds me of Collins. Von Herzen’s harp opens “Sweet Sugar You” written by Richard Berry. Von Herzen is featured again on the Muddy Waters classic “Champagne and Reefer” with a vocal from guitarist Main who sings it as if he where high.
“Howlin’” features a Wolf like vocal from Main “If you hear me Howlin’, callin on my darling” and a guitar solo from Watson. Lightnin’ Hopkins “Too Many Drivers” first recorded in 1966 is Main singing like James Harman, as Von Herzen’s harp lights it up again. “Helsinki” actually written by Harman is another great vocal from Main. On “Rosie”, from Doyle Bramhall II, Hightower’s bass is upfront in the mix and a completely different almost psychedelic sound. The closer is the “T-Bone Shuffle” appropriately credited but re-arranged and renamed the “44’s Shuffle” with a great performance from the band; they complete this tribute with a high reedy sound from Von Herzen as Main sings “let your hair down babe, let’s have a natural ball”.
This is a really great album from a band deserving a lot more recognition then they’ve gotten. The album is short but so sweet that you’ll listen over and over again.