Sizzlin'

Steak
Guy Forsyth (Antone's Records)

By Beth Jones

Imagine, if you can, the following ingredients: the rockin' rhythms of Bo Diddley, Chris Isaac's slightly twisted contemporary rockabilly, and the raspy distorted voice of Dusty Hill (back when ZZ Top was still worth listening to, of course). If that isn't enough, throw in a little homage to Louis Armstrong and a touch of Muddy Waters. Then produce your tunes using a freak-out boomerang guitar, an armpit fiddle and a Mississippi indulgeaphone (a real instrument, or did he just make that up?). Throw it on a flaming grill and you've got Steak.

The combinations above sound scary, but Guy Forsyth doesn't try to do them all in one song. And even though the influences are obvious, he easily manages to keep it from sounding copycat boring. In fact, it's some of the funkiest, quirkiest blues I've ever heard.

But Forsyth isn't relying on mere shock value and cheap tricks to make his mark. How about this line from "Mad," the recording's second cut: "Morning come and you look me in the eye and come up with some Wal-Mart lie". And from "You're Still Here," a classic one-who-got-away theme: "You're hidin' in my mirror and you're dyin' in my head / You're still here."

I have to admit, though, that Forsyth loses me on "Thibodaux Furlough." I love the bayou beat, but somehow, I've never learned to appreciate the saw as a musical instrument. Sounds a little too much like a theremin played in the soundtrack of a cheap 1950s B-movie for my taste.

Steak is interesting without being weird. It's innovative without forcing you to think too hard, and, by golly, it's just plain fun.

For more information, visit www.guyforsyth.com, or call Antone's Records at 1-800-96-BLUES.