Super Chikan
Blues Come Home to Roost
Rooster Blues 2634
This is Mississippi 1997. A tentative lick resolves into a bobbing, country guitar line, and Super Chikan begins singing in a trembling deadpan. "I'm down in the Delta/Living in the country/And everything is fine," he declares. But after a set-up bound to stir the heart of every party-blues fan, Super Chikan begins expanding on his portrait. "Pick-up trucks are running/Tractors are humming/Cotton popping up through the ground/Happy farmers are farming/Agriplanes flying all around," he says at one point, drawing a post-card portrait of the good-time rural South. But that's followed by: "My house is 80 years old and the front porch is falling down." Suddenly, we're jerked into real-world blues.

There's nobody else like Super Chikan around today. He likes a good laugh as much as the next guy, but he doesn't want to let you forget just how hard life can be in that Mississippi Delta. Nor do his songs opt for easy blues superstition, hoodoo or mysticism; they just insist that you realize life presents mysteries to which there are no easy answers. On a song like "Crystal Ball Eyes," his lyrics are little more than a string of images he throws out over a spooky-sounding band track and some finger-clicking. Though his name comes from his ability to make his guitar cackle like a chicken, he makes it do a lot more than that; on a track like "Captain Love Juice" it talks as well as squawks.

He sounds like a cross between Slim Harpo and John Lee Hooker, but with more twang than either. His vocal delivery ranges from a lazy drawl to a lazy slur to a lazy declamation. Everything sounds slow and deliberate yet also potentially (and often actually) dangerous -- like a big lovable ol' dog sleeping on the porch that springs into action and turns out to be a pit bull. The musician Super Chikan reminds me of the most is P-Funk ringleader George Clinton (who probably would kill to have written Chikan's "Camel Toe").

The booklet contains Super Chikan's cartoon-like drawings telling his life story. With all due respect to the good Jim O'Neal, who wrote the text for those drawings, I think a collaboration is in order between Super Chikan and Harvey Pekar. Blues Come Home to Roost is far too wacked-out to be anything less than the truest blues of the year.

-- John Morthland

This page and all contents are © 1997 by BLUES ACCESS,
Boulder, CO, USA.