Pat Boyack and the Prowlers
Super Blue & Funky
Bullseye Blues 9587
Sure, I can be as purist as the next guy. Indeed, I'm usually, without apologies, more purist than the next guy, forever railing against the latest white-boy wonder and his flying fingers who not only takes away the meal ticket that rightly belongs to one of the last of the true bluesmen but also forces those bluesmen to play more like the impostor in order to claim the leftover scraps.

But every now and again someone comes along who I can't help but like in spite of my principles, and Pat Boyack is one such hombre. This is the Dallas guitarist's third album. The first two suffered from poor vocals, a limited band (albeit one that did what it did do fine) and production that didn't know how to work around for either.

This time around Austin saxman Kaz Kazanoff is behind the board (and also blowing hellaciously, especially on the remake of Hank Marr's goofy "Mexican Vodka" and on "Ol' Blondie Swings Again," which does just that). On eight of the 10 vocal tracks, Kaz and Boyack bring in Spencer Thomas, formerly of the Austin band Solid Senders, to sing, and he's not bad -- smooth and predictable -- but he holds his own with the band. On two of the most soulish cuts ("Why Must I Suffer?" "Righteous Love"), Austin's W.C. Clark does the honors, and he's even better.

The rest is Boyack's show: He knows it, and he shows it. Take "Longwallin'," one of the four instrumentals. It opens with the leader playing a hooky intro and then, as the muscular band jumps in, the whole thing begins picking up momentum. By the end, the track's become an indomitable blend of flash and discipline.

And that phrase could describe Boyack by himself, too. First off, he's full of working-class piss and vinegar, a consequence, no doubt, of his family heritage in the coal mines of Utah. He's always a prominent voice in the band, even when he's playing rhythm; he knows how to play in support of a singer; and when it's his turn to solo, he'll play something concise, well-thought-out and blistering, and then he'll drop back into the band. He does it so gracefully, he leaves you believing he could play a perfectly acceptable 10-minute solo, but simply chooses not to (may he never change his mind).

Whether it's a blaring second-line update like "Louisiana Love Shack," a Wolf-ish "Think (Before You Do)" or a slow moaner like "Righteous Love," he can hit a simpatico groove with the mostly Austin band, and he can step out with style.

Blues, blues-rock, rockin' blues? For once, it just doesn't matter.

-- John Morthland

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.