Tuesday, August 28, 2012

RJ Mischo - Make It Good CD Review

Last month, I was asked to write a CD review for the Golden Gate Blues Society newsletter.  At first, I was resistant.  I am not a writer.  Eventually, I was coaxed into it.  Here is the review...

“Make It Good” is former Bay Area resident, RJ Mischo’s tenth release and his first for Delta Groove Music.  It’s a “high-octane fueled album” consisting of thirteen original tunes that demonstrate Mischo’s fine songwriting skills.  One thing that remains in common with his previous releases, this CD is a fine collection of old school Blues numbers mixed with some 1950’s-era rock and roll tunes. 

On most tracks, he is backed by some of the finest talent out of Austin, Texas including: guitarists Nick Curran and Johnny Moeller, bassist Ronnie James Weber, drummer Wes Starr and pianist Nick Connolly.  On two of the tunes, he is more than adequately backed by drummer Richard Medek, and guitarist Jeremy Johnson from Minneapolis.

The first track, “Trouble Belt”, starts the set with an uptempo number reminiscent of 50’s rock and roll.  It’s a song about a woman in a leopard skin top with that a smile that'll make your heart stop.  “The Frozen Pickle” is a wicked instrumental jam that showcases the fine instrumentalists on this recording.  It starts off as a showcase for RJ’s fabulous harmonica tone followed by a very lush organ solo and a guitar solo that transports the listener back to 1955 before RJ wraps it all up. 

The title track, “Make It Good”, provides the listener with some great advice about treating a woman right, not spending all your money and acting like a fool.  It features some very nice guitar work by Jeremy Johnson.  “Papa's St Special” is a crowd pleasing and delightful country blues romp that RJ has been performing during his past couple tours through the Bay Area.  The studio version is no exception.

“Minnesota Woman” is a classic Rice Miller-influenced number bragging about going back home to the woman from Minnesota that he followed from California to Arkansas.  “Up To The Brim” is an instrumental that pays tribute to the legendary John Brim.  It sounds like it came straight out of the Chess Studios in Chicago back in 1953. 

“The Biscuit is Back” is an uptempo Rice Miller-influenced trip to down to Helena Arkansas where RJ proclaims his thanks for the return of the King Biscuit Blues Festival in 2011. “Elevator Juice” is another fine instrumental showcasing his fine amplified harmonica tone that is second to none and some fine guitar work by Johnny Moeller.  “All Over Again” paints an interesting tale about the repetitive nature of the partying lifestyle.

Closing the CD is “Arumbula - Part II”.  (“Arumbula - Part I” occurs earlier in the set.)  This is a crazy instrumental that’s like a tapestry featuring some great chromatic harmonica mixed with some fine organ work by Nick Connolly that floats on top of a great jungle beat groove. 

RJ’s debut release on Delta Groove is a wonderful collection of songs exhibiting solid musicianship and songwriting.  “Make It Good” would be a welcome addition to any collection of fine Blues music.