a mishmash that doesn't miss

Mumbo Jumbo
Winston Hardy & The Roadmasters

By Michael Campbell

From the opening Zappa feedback that melts into the Harper Valley PTA Dobro-driven "Peru Guru" through "Bonus Symphony #1," it is obvious that Mumbo Jumbo ain't yer daddy's idea of a typical blues recording. Winston Hardy & the Roadmasters have successfully applied their gifts of humor, imagination, and a solid groove that laces many musical styles to blues-based lyrics.

Imagine yourself a batter facing a different pitcher for every ball thrown, and you're in the right batter's box. In most cases, this could be interpreted as mere inconsistency; on Mumbo Jumbo, it works because every song, no matter what flavor, is distinctively them.

The country blues of "Nigel," with its haunting observations ("Nigel's got a hurt he can't fix in front of the kids") is eloquently punctuated with Jake Kessinger's Dobro. The use of the Dobro in many songs serves as a unifying presence throughout. "No Alibis" delivers a solid Jimmy Cliff-style jam, mon — yet still delivering that blues message. A Tony Joe White atmosphere is conjured up for the Harley Davidson tribute "Hog," in which a solution to "nothin' exciting happening between your legs for a while" is offered.

This brings us to the stream of consciousness entry, "Bonus Symphony #1," a string of songs, psychedelia, and sonic collage. Within this, be sure to catch Misha Feigin's plaintive "Where the Home Is" and the exploration of the parameters of human rights, "Democrats Revenge."

No Stevie Ray wannabes on this recording, and who needs 'em, with the likes of the Roadmasters & friends, including Smoketown Red, Kush Griffith, and Todd Hildreth. So blues purists beware; but if you're comfortable with World Party jamming with Muddy singing Umma Gumma on 461 Ocean Boulevard, you are home.