Skip to main content

Music Review: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears new album Scandalous

I'm just starting to shake myself out of a lifetime of subborn resistence to contemporary music, and in that process, I've discovered Black Joe Lewis. Other than hearing a few of his songs here and there, his new album "Scandalous" is my first prolonged exposure to this group.

For those who don't know, BJL draws on every variation of blues (Texas, Chicago, jump, etc.), a good deal of James Brown-style soul (lots of horns), with straight, old-fashioned guitar Rock n' Roll. Their sound is reminscent of (at times) James Brown, Sam n' Dave, Eric Clapton, Buckwheat Zydeco, and a souped-up Stevie Ray Vaughn, with each track taking on a different on a subtlely (sometimes not so subltely) different flavor.

In fact, the tracks on this album vary pretty widely from the up-tempo opener "Livin in the Jungle," to the slow and sultry "I'm gonna leave you." To the downright James Brown-ish "Booty City," to the Lenny Kravitz-ish title track "She's so scandalous," to the Delta Blues influenced "Messin," to "You been lying," with a riff that sounds eerily like The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Parallel Universe," to the track "Since I met you baby," which sounds straight out of southern Louisiana Zydeco.

BJL & the Honeybears display a wide range of musical talent on this album, however, the lyrics are pretty standard blues-fluenced stuff. "Baby, I'm gonna leave you," etc., etc., etc. And frankly, the music lacks innovation in any sense of the word. BJL seems like a band that's really, really good at copying many different variations of blues and soul, but I don't see anything here that advances music.

Having said all that, the album is really fun to listen to, and musicians don't have to be innovating all the time for them to be relevant. I definitely plan to look further into BJL's discography and see what else is there. Meantime, this album will stay on my CD player/computer for the immediate future.


Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review #151: "The Bog Girl" by Karen Russell

From the June 20 issue...

My loyal readers (if there are still any, which I doubt) will know I'm usually not a fan of Magical Realism, which, as you may also know, is Karen Russell's stock in trade. That said, there's nothing I love more than having my antipathy for magical realism shattered by an awesome story like "The Bog Girl."

Briefly, an Irish teenager discovers the body of a young woman who as been buried in a bog for over 2,000 years and begins to date her. What more do you need, right? If I'd read that one-line description somewhere else, and wasn't on a mission to review every New Yorker short story, I doubt I'd have read "The Bog Girl." But maybe I should start doing a George Costanza and do the opposite of everything I think I should do.

Where Russell succeeds here is in two main areas: 1.) Making us really love Cillian, the teenager who falls in love with the bog girl, and 2.) pulling the unbelievable trick making the characters…

Holiday Q&A, Volume 1

These questions come to us from Grace. Thanks for sending your questions!! Answers below:
What is the most thrilling mystery you have read and/or watched?
The Eiger Sanction (book and film) by Trevanian is what's coming to mind. International espionage. Mountain-climbing assassins. Evil albino masterminds. Sex. Not a bad combination. Warning, this is completely a "guy" movie, and the film (feat. Clint Eastwood) is priceless 70s action movie cheese. But in case that's your thing...
What's the deal with Narcos?
Narcos is a Netflix show about the rise and fall (but mostly the fall) of Columbian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Thus far there are two seasons of 10 episodes each. RIYL: The film Blow, starring Johnny Depp; the book Zombie City, by Thomas Katz; the movie Goodfellas; true crime; anything involving the drug trade. My brief review: Season 1 started out a bit slow and I know a bunch of people who never made it past the first few episodes. Some of the acting is a…

A Piece of Advice I Learned From My Grandfather

My grandfather was one of the most learned men I know. He read widely and voraciously, and not just in the sciences (he was a doctor); he loved politics, philosophy, and great literature as well. Whenever he finished a book he would write his thoughts about the book in the front cover and then sign and date it. To this day every once in a while I will open a book from my bookshelf or my mother's bookshelf, or at one of my family members' homes, and there will be my grandfather's handwriting. He was also a great giver of his books; if you remarked that you liked a particular one or wanted to read it, you were almost sure to take it home with you.

Reading is a very solitary pursuit but my grandfather was not a solitary person. He relished having family and friends around him which is convenient because he was blessed with a lot of both. And he carried out his intellectual life in a very "public" way as well. He was, in some ways, an intellectual evangelist. If he r…