Kid Bangham & Amyl Justin
So unless you're fortunate enough to be part of the Boston-Providence blues axis, you haven't heard much from the skinny guitarist with the Lyle Lovett hairdo -- until now.
Bangham and Amyl Justin, a Detroit-based singer who spent some time in Matt "Guitar" Murphy's band before moving to Boston, have teamed up to record Pressure Cooker, an engaging mix of blue-eyed soul, rock and, of course, blues.
Bangham plays in the same league with Vaughan (check out the brief guitar solo on "No Justice"), Robillard and Ronnie Earl, a group that prefers finesse over brawn. Collaborator Justin's sound is harder to pin down: He's sort of a cross between Darrell Nulisch and Mitch Ryder.
Clearly, both were both influenced by American soul music and the '60s British Invasion. Their Little Richard-esque version of "Rocket In My Pocket" has a Paul McCartney flavor to it, while "Shoot Me" conjures up fun memories of the Faces soon after Rod Stewart came on board. There's also the James Brown-like "Big Man Around Town" and a cover of Bobby "Blue" Bland's "I Wouldn't Treat a Dog."
Elsewhere, Bangham leads the way on a pair of instrumentals, the romping "Kid Stuff" and slow-burning "My Turn to Talk." Justin takes over on a pair of beautiful ballads, "Lonely One" and "Let's Do It Over."
Fortunately, Justin and Bangham are capable songwriters, a trait that's especially apparent on "Shoot Me," which includes the telling line: "Girl, I'm giving you permission/You got the ammunition/Just shoot me."
There are a couple misfires. Neither "Danger Zone," a straight-ahead rocker, nor "Hurricane Jane," a stab at 1970s funk, add much to an otherwise delightful outing.
-- Dave Ranney