Listen Up: Wednesday, December 12, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Josh Alan Band

Josh Alan Band (Topcat Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

Here’s a shiny new silver disc by a Dallasite I’m in awe of on a couple of levels. For one, he’s a monster guitarist. I once saw him perform a note-perfect rendition of “Jeff’s Boogie” — Jeff Beck’s studio-tricked-out, Yardbirds-era, Les Paul homage — on an acoustic guitar. For another, he’s an estimable journalist, working under his full name of Josh Alan Friedman; his profile of Double Trouble bassist Tommy Shannon in the Dallas Observer stands as the most gut-wrenching, heart-rending piece of music writing I’ve ever read. (A sampling of his articles, regrettably not including the Shannon piece, is at www.joshalan.com.) His last c.d., the extremely politically incorrect Blacks ‘N’ Jews, was proof positive that drollness and fiery musicianship are not mutually exclusive.

On his latest c.d., Josh Alan Band, he’s backed by a workmanlike bass-drum combo, with guest stars including ex-Ray Charles saxophonist (and Fort Worth native) David “Fathead” Newman and one-time Miles Davis organist Bernard Wright. But the real story here is Alan, playing his ass off in the manner of Leo Kottke on “Josh’s Breakdown,” and assailing Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” as Jeff Beck might. Evoking the chaotic spirit of early Johnny Winter with his slithering slide work on Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” and Winter’s own tour de force “Mean Town Blues.” And, finally, applying a clawing attack to Joe Liggins’ “The Honeydripper — Part 2.”

As for the material, there’s a previously unreleased song, “Strike A Match,” penned by 1950s-era Brill Building juggernaut Leiber & Stoller. Alan originals like the funky “When A Poor Man Gets Rich,” “No One Owns the Blues” (“...down in Austin, that might be news”), “Billionaire of the Blues,” and “As Chanukah Passes Me By” feature sardonic lyrics, which he sings in an archetypal Texas white blues voice. That’s kinda ironic, considering he’s originally a Noo Yawk boy.


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