They might have called it Not a Word on It, this all-instrumental compilation from Jimmy Thackery that includes three previously unreleased tracks as well as samples from his Blind Pig catalog. The powerhouse guitar slinger appeared at Ferndale’s Anti-Freeze Blues Festival in January and wowed the crowd with six-string pyrotechnics, all right — but what’s he like to take home?
For starters, Thackery’s always had good taste in covers. Here, they include “Apache” (which isn’t as spooky as the original by Jorgen Ingmann) and “Last Night” (which lacks the grits-and-grease feel the Mar-Keys gave it). He also remakes tunes from Roy Buchanan and Stevie Ray Vaughan, players whose flash and fire Thackery often emulates.
The originals stand up well, with the sax-propelled “Sinner Street” and “Jump for Jerry” being highlights. The latter features a guest shot from Duke Robillard and offers a swinging counterpoint to the blues-rock found on most of the other numbers. Another original, “Hang Up & Drive,” gains points for the title.
There are three live treats here, recorded at the late, lamented Sully’s in November 1994; “Jimmy’s Rude Mood,” “Edward’s Blues” and the album-closer, “Jimmy’s Detroit Boogie” make me wish I’d been in Dearborn that night. I can’t help but wonder if he played the last song as “Jimmy’s Cleveland Boogie” the next night in Ohio.
Still, there’s something missing here — the words. One of my great attractions to the blues has always been the stories of deals gone down, love gone bad and jobs gone south. Listening to an all-instrumental disc means I have to make up those stories myself. And a vocalist would have added another dimension to this worthwhile recording. But pick this up if you’re a fan of well-played, high-octane rockin’ blues. Don’t turn it up too loud, though, if you value good relations with the neighbors.
Vic Doucette is the copy editor at Metro Times. E-mail him at [email protected].