RICK ESTRIN AND THE NIGHTCATS
ONE WRONG TURN
Alligator (ALCD4950 )
D.O.G., Lucky You, Callin' All Fools, (I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise, Movin' Slow, One Wrong Turn, Desperation Perspiration, Zonin', Broke And Lonesome, You Ain't The Boss Of Me, Old News, The Legend Of Taco Cobbler.
When Little Charlie Baty decided to retire a few years ago as leader of Little Charlie And The Nightcats, it must have been tempting for the rest of the band to also call it quits. Fortunately for us, they didn't. They simply dusted themselves down, hired a new hot-shot guitarist to take over from Charlie and let harmonica and vocalist Rick Estrin step up to the plate as the undisputed front man. If you recall, back in 2009, we even reviewed the first album of the band in their new guise (Twisted ALCD4930) as it turned out to be quite a blast.
Well, here they are, back again and, to these ears, sounding better than ever on a new album of 12 originally wry and witty songs, each delivered by a band that seamlessly moves from swinging West Coast blues to funky rock workouts, taking in rock and roll, ska, jazz and plenty more along the way.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated that on the closing number The Legend Of Taco Cobbler. Thankfully (with such a song title) an instrumental, this starts out as a surf guitar exercise that Dick Dale would have been proud of before heading off into a spaghetti western soundtrack for a movie that Quentin Tarantino has yet to make. Along the way it takes in a brief ska interlude and moves dangerously close to progressive rock before triumphantly ending with a return of the surf guitar for a great finale. A highlight of the album for me and seven minutes of music that most bands wouldn't be able to get near never mind deliver to such stunning effect.
Before this triumphant closer, we have already been swayed by the band's (mostly Rick's) super and splendidly varied original songs. Lucky You and Callin' All Fools show just how good the band is when playing modern original blues, with Rick's swooping harmonica and Kid Anderson's stinging guitar to the fore. The hilarious (I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise is a salutary lesson in being careful who you mix with when attending this peculiar modern phenomenon and You Ain't The Boss Of Me is a fantastic piece of controlled blues-rock. In fact, all the songs offer up a beguiling and accessible blend of great tunes, witty lyrics and fabulous playing.
We called Twisted a humdinger of a CD when we reviewed it 2009 and, try as I might, I can't think of a better summary of One Wrong Turn now.
Review Date: June 2012