Rockin' Johnny Band

Grim Reaper

by David Maine

18 July 2012

 

Competent musicianship can't hide flaws.

cover art

Rockin' Johnny Band

Grim Reaper

(Delmark)
US: 17 Apr 2012
UK: 28 May 2012

The Rockin’ Johnny Band is something of a Chicago institution, having been gigging and recording since the mid-1990s. Ringleader Johnny Burgin plays guitar and sings, with solid support from John Sefner on bass and harmonica maestro Davin Erickson, among others. The songs are straight-up 12-bar blues, and if they are at times atmospheric, even creepy—“Grim Reaper,” “Window to Your Soul,” “My Baby’s a Good Un”—they are also weakened by Johnny’s vocal delivery. That delivery isn’t horrible, it’s just weaker than the instrumental elements on the record. Johnny’s voice is fairly thin and unmemorable, and with tunes like this, the vocals need to sell them just as much as the deft guitar playing and moody basslines. This is probably a band that sounds terrific in club, with the beer flowing and the acoustics less than perfect anyway. On record, though, it’s pretty much blues-by-the-numbers, and the shortcomings grow too pronounced to overlook. And oh my Lord, do we really need another rendition of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”? (Hint: no.)

Grim Reaper

Rating:

//comments
//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Last Gunfighter: Songwriter Guy Clark Passes Away at 74

// Sound Affects

"The man whose songs were recorded by Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, David Allan Coe, The Highwaymen, and countless others succumbs to time’s cruel cue that the only token of permanence we have to offer are the effects of shared moments and memories.

READ the article