Louisiana-born and Texas-toughened, Brooks (66 at the time of this recording), Hunter (68), and Walker (62) show what blues peers can do in what seem to be peaking years. There are three numbers where all three go full-tilt; the rest of the material varies in personnel, group, and solo emphasis. The distinctive, gutsy voice of Brooks, Walker's loping guitar lines with his slightly rough, seasoned voice, and the riveting presence of Walker on all counts, musically and vocally, are showcased to consistently satisfying levels. Of the 15 cuts, there are a handful of rockers and boogies, a few pure soul tunes and ballads, a jump blues, a Cajun calypso, and some straight blues – something for everyone. The hard-swinging "Street Walking Woman" and the slower shuffle "Feel Good Doin' Bad" are great musically, if lacking in message. Walker gets a back-to-back showcase on "I Can't Stand It No More/I Met the Blues in Person," and he tears it up. Brooks pleads and shouts on "This Should Go on Forever," while Hunter's highlights are the cautious "Alligators Around My Door" and the B.B. King cop on "Quit My Baby." Score some plus points for Kaz Kazanoff's sax and harp playing, and the horn charts are mighty fine throughout.
All the promise that Lonnie Brooks possessed was realized on this album, his finest and most consistent to date. The churning bayou groove of "Voodoo Daddy," and a soul-steeped "Watch What You Got," a bone-chilling remake of Junior Parker's "In the Dark," rollicking covers of Tommy Tucker's "Alimony" and Brooks' own "Figure Head," and the swaggering originals "You Know What My Body Needs" and "Watchdog" are among the set's many incendiary highlights.
Led by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Donnie "Mr. Downchild" Walsh, the Downchild Blues Band is the premier blues band in Canada. Their saxophone-driven jump blues provided a major inspiration for Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi's Blues Brothers, who included Walsh's tunes, "Everything I Need (Almost)" and "Shotgun Blues," on their 1978 debut album, Briefcase Full of Blues. Formed in 1969 by Walsh and his brother, Richard "Hock" Walsh, the Downchild Blues Band endured continuous personnel turnover. More than 18 musicians came and went, including Gene Taylor, who went on to play with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Kenny Neal, who joined after leaving the employ of Buddy Guy and relocating to Toronto.
More energetic efforts with a decidedly rocked-up edge. Johnny Winter, long an ardent admirer of Brooks back to the Guitar Junior days, drops by with a passel of fiery guitar licks for the title track and "Got Lucky Last Night."
Garth Brooks has announced the release of a career-spanning multi-part anthology. Beginning on November 14th, Brooks will release Part 1: The First Five Years, which chronicles 1989 through 1993.