by Adam Stanfel
Didja hear Dale Jarrett had a big come-from-behind victory at Michigan International Speedway this past weekend? If you didn’t, don’t buy this album. Jimmy Thackery and Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Store is perfect for those NASCAR fans who can’t get enough of Stevie Ray Vaughan and don’t bother doing their historical research about Howlin’ Wolf or Magic Sam. It’s a prime example of why it has become hard to take “blues” (if that’s what you wanna call this) seriously in its contemporary context.
Backed by Stevie Ray ‘s rhythm section (Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton and Resse Wynans), this disc offers up a set of predictable mind-numbing originals and uninspired covers. The opening track is a Cajunesque tune called “I Ain’t Broke,” sung in an overtly growly voice, accompanied by hackneyed Chuck Berry licks that only do a disservice to their creator. Benoit’s guitar solo on “Away, Away Too Long” offers the album’s only (dim) light. The bit proves that Benoit’s been paying attention as he avoids playing too fast and keeps it wonderfully devoid of clichés. But, the song’s initially catchy rainy-day groove grows tiresome and even repulsive when Jimmy Thackery begins singing his best blackfaced minstrel, “lawd, lawd, lawd.”
Although many would say this collection of (gulp) musicians consists of hopelessly uncool classic rockers wearing blues frills, the liner notes read, “Instead of recording the same twelve-bar blues over and over, Jimmy and Tab chose to put their blues spin on the rock world.”
And just one look at the bloated Thackery suggests that he would probably string up Bob Dylan or anyone else who looks like him if they happened into his neck of the holler. Yet there is an audacious cover of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” Do you think the good ol’ boys in the café scene of Easy Rider would cover a Dylan song?
Perhaps even further from the mark is the attempt at Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones’ “Bad Luck Blues.” Jones’ version is centered around his one-of-a-kind vocals and distinctive, major-scale riffs. Whiskey Store presents the song as a standard 12-bar blues with easily anticipated notes and less-than-stellar singing. Still sound interesting? Hop in your Woodward Dream Cruise-ready pick-em’ up, race out to the store and snag your own copy.
E-mail Adam Stanfel at firstname.lastname@example.org.