Following the retirement of Little Charlie Baty, Rick Estrin has restructured Little Charlie and the Nightcats as Rick Estrin and the Nightcats for Twisted, the band’s debut record on Alligator. The formula is mostly the same: Estrin’s canny revivalist songwriting and supercharged harmonica are the highlights, with newcomer Kid Andersen stepping in on guitar. (In addition to his considerable chops as a blues player, Andersen plays some wild surf guitar—see the album-closing instrumental “Bigfoot”, the set’s most surprising song.) The result is, predictably, a swingin’, jumpin’, and self-consciously retro affair. The Nightcats are a tight, polished unit, and Estrin’s longtime followers will find nothing to dislike. Initiates might wonder.
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