Music

Jimmy Thackery: Healin' Ground

Robert R. Calder

The man needs no subtlety, a blues singer or guitarist who could pass visually for a country singer and does play Soulabilly and R&Babilly too.


Jimmy Thackery

Healin' Ground

Label: Telarc
US Release Date: 2005-04-26
UK Release Date: 2005-05-30
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

The opening track on this is a corker, if you relish an absence of taste and subtlety which nonetheless doesn't enter the realm of the deeply offensive. There is something in the song about a splendid "package" -- and the high quality of that package's wrappings -- in a song which plainly sets little store by itself, or in its singing. The only thing which will access the object of the desires expressed, the "package", so the delectably crass lyric asserts, is the mastery of guitar displayed elsewhere on the track.

The central performer is shown on the booklet brandishing a guitar. Other shots in the booklet are of apparently the same guitar, but after it has been broken, the neck hocked out of its nest in the body. There is no word as to whether this image represents a sequel in which the persona of the opening song discovered that not even his command of the guitar would avail him of that wrapped object of desire. Too hurt by rejection to perform, did he behead his axe? Or is this a reference to having heard other performers so overpaid they could ruin gear poor youngsters might have learned on?

Jimmy Thackery is a very able blues guitarist, for all that the music here veers between Southside Chicago and the outer non-mawkish aisles of the Country Music Hall of Fame. "Fender Bender" is a sort of "guitar instrumental" which used to be produced featuring either the rock 'n' roll band normally fronted by a star singer, but without him; or a guitarist who couldn't sing; or as here a singer-guitarist resting his vocal chords. Jimmy Thackery has presumably heard Eric Clapton, who came on the scene rather later than the preceding sub-genre of "guitar instrumental". Perhaps he's something of an influence on the sort of Heavymetalabilly title which follows a "Healin' Ground" which does recall Cream.

Mark Stutso takes over the singing for a couple of titles, "Devil's Toolbox" being not the blues the title might make one hope for but a sort of between-Otises item, the Otises in question being Redding and Rush. Stutso also sings on "Weaker Than You Know", which after beginning in a sort of Soulabilly manner gets decidedly hotter and much better, with the territory initially held by something like Hammond organ successfully stormed by pounding piano and a blues band worthy of Buddy Guy when he was half his present age.

Jimmy Reed sang "I'm Goin' Upside Your Head" to a better lyric than Thackery's co-composed "Upside of Lonely" here, but with no piano in the band and some maybe slightly cowboyish guitar -- and Jimmy Hall's harmonica coming in later -- this does echo Jimmy Reed, and maybe even more his Lousiana-based contemporary Jimmy Anderson.

This CD may be too much a display of different abilities on the leader's part to be the best CD he could put together. After a John Lee Hooker boogie rhythm beginning -- such as other people played on recordings from Hooker's last years -- the unmistakeable influence on the instrumental "Kickin' Chicken" is T-Bone Walker, or a sort of 1940s pre-bop jazz electric guitar.

Blues is probably what Thackery does best, and even if he does the other things for gig audiences it's his best rather than something representative that the buyer might really want. After an exercise in soul/R&B and an exploration of what a blues band with a wailing organist can do with Henry Mancini's "A Shot in the Dark" -- theme music of the film which first turned Peter Sellers into Inspector Clouseau -- the blues band shows its paces on "Can't Lose What You Never Had" with Thackery very good on slide guitar if vocally slightly misguided in attempting to emulate Muddy Waters, whose song this was. And is. The moral of that song is surely at odds with the picture on the back liner of Thackery holding a broken guitar, and the speculation with which the present review began.

I'm sure the attempt was at variety, but the result seems a somewhat mixed bag: the bag in question being a different sort of package to that mentioned in the opening track, but with general appeal to an audience who would probably have appreciated the inclusion of one of J.B. Hutto's last songs. That short-lived blues master's career began with attacks on Eisenhower and the Korean War, but just before his tragic untimely death he was singing about Vietnam. Amen.

5

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.