Black Cat Bone
Get Your Kicks Sessions
Review by Mike Ciresi exclusively for CC Badass Production Presents
“A black cat bone is a type of lucky charm used in the African American magical tradition of Hoodoo. It is thought to ensure a variety of positive effects, such as invisibility, good luck, protection from malevolent magic, rebirth after death, and romantic success.” Anderson, Jeffrey E. (December 2005). Conjure In African American Society. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-3092-3
Black Cat Bone hail from Edinburgh, Scotland and for my money have the “American” blues and rock thing down and are working it full tilt. The band is tight but lay out huge doses of swagger and a loose foot stomping mix of Delta & Chicago blues that gets you shaking parts of your body you may not have realized you had. On one hand the band has mastered the soulful glide known as a “stroll” and on the other hand they play straight-forward knock you on your ass rock and roll. You have growling and raspy vocals and back up harmonies loud enough to fill a venue that hit you between the eyes even in the farthest seat you could find. The rhythm section keeps the motor running with absolute precision, the bass and drum work keeps everything in place but also allows you to let it all hang out. I also love a bass player that’s not afraid of fuzzing the life out of the strings when needed, nice touch. The guitar work throughout the tracks is full of: dynamics, slinky guitar solos, lightning bolt like slide work and driving rhythm patterns. One last master component to the band is the blazing hot shot harmonica work that would make Little Walter proud.
Let’s sit back and take a look at some of what BCB are laying down for ya’ll…
The song opens with a classic “stroll” drumbeat that pulls you in through a door of one of those bayou bars only the locals dare enter. You can picture the women of the juke-joint throwing their hips and arms toward the ceiling; their jewelry swinging to and fro like a pendulum in slow motion. Then the entire band enters with its swampy, slow funky chops and creamy guitar tones; the rhythm section pounding on your chest. You can picture the moss plastered all over the building and the snakes hanging from the lilting trees above. A fog swirls around the windows only an alligator could see through and the night is just getting started.
The vocal graces the speakers with a cool raspy growl which compliments the lyric. The backup vocals are nicely layered and have a high decibel war cry effect, you sense how confident the vocalist’ are with their abilities.
The harmonica solo charms its way into the mix in blues deluxe fashion. The distortion of the harp is lean, clean and bluesy and wraps itself around the other instruments like a snake. It’s very sleek and rhythmic; hypnotic to say the least.
I expected a fuzzed out guitar solo but instead my ears were graced with an excellent clean as ice solo. There’s a subtle phase going on with a swirling note pattern and a nice rock and roll finish to it.The solo weaves and rolls around the other instruments perfectly. This is dynamics at its best. All of the instruments blend together creating a sublime clarity to the song.
One more chorus and one more chant “I’m howlin’ baby in the dead of the night, I’m howlin’ until the Morning Light” and its stroll time once again to the end of the song. I can picture the full yellow moon hovering over that moss covered bar, the door opens and a long shadow makes its way to a waiting Harley-Davidson…..another cat on the prowl. There is a good reason this song is on the charts, once you’ve heard it you’re hooked for good.
“Get Your Kicks”:
The song opens up with a slithery and steamy guitar arpeggio. It reminds me of waking up in the desert and watching the hazy sun slowly pushing its way up over a mountain peak; not a cloud in the sky. I’m surrounded by nothing but cactus, a long narrow open road and blue sky.
The vocals come in with a haunting overtone; you can almost see through the singers eyes as he looks out at the vista in front of him.
“Hanging in the balance, then you push the weight
Suffering from silence, that fills our souls with hate”
This sets the tone for the song lyrically. Then a sarcastic “Go on get your kicks” sets it all off in motion. You know exactly where the singer is taking this; there’s no misunderstanding to be had.
Enter a funk laden blues guitar lick with all of the swagger one can handle. It instantly grabs you and sends your body into motion. Once again the guitar tone is at its creamy best. It’s the glue that holds the sound in your soul.
The rhythm section is very important here as it is keeping things in line. It’s allowing everything else to flow around this desert dance. The drummer and bass player have spot on instincts as when to lay a fill in or hold back.
Now we are treated to a haunting inter-play between harmonica and guitar. You can picture the slow motion dance of a rattlesnake and it’s soon to be prey. The dust starts to form a blanket around the deadwood, rocks and cactus of the desert plain. The blood red sun is beating down so hard the sweat dries from your forehead before it even has a chance to hit your nose. I love this section of the song because I can sense that I’m being lead somewhere; somewhere faster and more dangerous.
After another chorus the song completely shifts gears. This song has loads of imagery to work with and I am picturing our narrator getting into what could only be a late sixties muscle car loaded with plenty of gas and nitrous to burn. It’s time to get on that road and get his kicks. The instruments are running, the pace is building. The fuzzed out bass begins to get louder and the whine of the solo guitar weaves in and out of each lane. The rhythm guitar splashes fit perfectly. At this point it’s like you know this car is building pressure and there is more than enough space between the pedal and the floor board to do the deed. The drum fill comes in right as you push it to the floor. Like the music, you keep going faster and faster; there is no way in hell that you’re going to lift…you are going to ride this out until there is no road.
The harmonica screams like an engine would at 140 mph, the drums banging and stomping like the cylinders would be through the red hot block and the bass is pumping the gas through the carb, the guitars are holding the wheels to the pavement. The solo guitar work is pushing the tach to the limit…everything has its limit. We are at the end of the 7 minute plus fury and you have redlined. The song comes to a peaceful ending and like a mirage you fade into the skyline intact.
“Love My Baby”:
This bluesy tale starts off with a gator tail-wagging guitar riff. It is quickly followed by a hippo stomp drum beat suggesting that our subject has yet another alcohol fueled mind-bender of a headache. The cause of this pain between the eyes could very well be one caused by an evil temptress that has forever locked you in her sway. It’s a classic blues love story that’s been around longer than the crossroads. The tone of the guitar cuts like a buzz saw through thick bamboo.
The lyric “When she get up in the morning, She don’t give me no thrill” really sets off that classic blues story that I’m speaking of.
Like “Morning Light” this is a swampy four on the floor type song that is drenched and dyed in the Delta blues cauldron. A lot of guitar players spend endless hours looking for and, perfecting the evil buzz that makes them stand out from the rest. You just don’t get accepted into those delta blues juke-joints and speakeasies without it. And if you do manage to get up on that rickety stage you’ll more than likely end up with a broken glass bottle lodged into your forehead. BCB has managed to bottle the tone lightning bolt and lay it on thick into riffs like the one laid down on this track.
The first solo section of this track combines dimed out harmonica and guitar against that locked down rhythm section and really pushes the blood through your veins. The second solo is even more intense with some really tricked out slide guitar work, the musicians really know how to work the fretboard and tell a good tale.
Another lyric really sums up our dude’s dilemma, he just can’t let go of this vixen in stiletto high-heels. You know the type you see in every “B” movie, long hair waving in the humid night air, spaghetti strapped T-shirt and hips swinging from town to town…she’s bad for him but as you can see but he doesn’t care. And all of this isn’t making our hero out to be any better!
”Well at 3 o clock babe, the moon was shining bright
Well my baby didn’t come home, but that’s alright”
The answer and call play with the vocal and guitar that goes on during the last verse is classic rock and roll; the band demonstrates great instinct while laying it down. At 3:28 into the song is definitely the golden moment in the song. A superb display of fretwork, the solo is full of dynamics. At first you get this schizophrenic storm of notes and then a tapered back sleek set of notes that move right into some slow howling patterns.
The last verse of the song kind of sums things up for this mess of a couple;
“I said hey hey baby,
Where did you sleep last night?
Well you didn’t come home ‘til the sun was shining bright”
He has no idea where she’s been and she probably has no idea either. It’s the perfect blues fairytale laid against a very slick rock and roll song. I bet you are all wondering how it ends for our two lost lovers, right? Let’s just say this “you know exactly what curiosity did to the Cat”
BCB is definitely a band that is on the right track. They seems to know where there roots are buried and stay true to them. The have taken pieces of the: 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s and stitched them together to give you the best of all of those decades into an honest collection of recordings. The band and their engineer seem to have really taken the time to put out some tasty sonic imagery. The vocal and harmony vocals fit nicely into the groove, the rhythm section of the band kept things really tight which this kind of music needs in order to swing. The harmonica and guitars were able to do their swampy thing because of it. The band sounds like they are having a good time which in turn will make you want to groove.
Black cat Bone are:
Luis Del Castillo – Guitar
Ross Craig - Singer/Harmonica
Jonny Linstead - Bass/ Backing Vocals
Kai Wallace - Drums
Charlie Wild – Guitar
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Alan Moffat at The Leith Recording Company
Released 2017 on the BCB label
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