tributes, not mere apings

That Ain't Nice (Rollin' and Tumblin')
Big Al & the Heavyweights

By Michael Campbell

With this album, Scott Mullins adds to his winning record of producing and presenting deserving regional blues talent. Big Al & the Heavyweights confidently stamp a Midwestern flavor onto excursions into Chicago shuffles, zydeco, and southern blues that pays homage to blues legends without imitating them.

Blues legends are referenced stylistically and lyrically in "King of the Blues" (Albert King), "The 'Fess" (Professor Longhair), and "Santa Wants To Play the Blues" (Muddy Waters).

Significant credit belongs to guitarist/vocalist Mike Holloway, who wrote or co-wrote nearly all the selections (I'm not sure about "The 'Fess," for which no writer's credit is given). As a guitarist, Mike seldom shocks, but rocks ("A Man Out of Love" is a good example) with a distinctive biting tone, and with his own style, as opposed to the current trend of aping the late, great Stevie you-know-who. Big Al Lauro (drums, backup vocals), Russ Wheeler (Hammond B-3), Rod Wuertle (piano), Kevin Wilson (bass and mandolin), producer Mullins (percussion and background vocals) and Roguie Ray Lamantague (harp, backup vocals) provide solid support.

Other memorable moments occur on "That Ain't Nice," which details the pitfalls of fooling around with your wife's best friend, Big Al's composition, "Zydecoco," and the sincere "Everyday of My Life," whose Southern style evokes the early Allman Brothers.

The mood of the album is exemplified in the Chicago-style shuffle "House Party!" If you're looking for blues with high drama (like Midnight ScreamBy Curtis Gaines with the Rusty Spoon Blues Band--also on Rollin' & Tumblin'--this ain't it. This is a good-time blues recording of original music pulling on rock and R&B styles. And that is nice.