Eddie Shaw & the Wolf Gang
Can't Stop Now
Delmark 698
Chicago saxman Eddie Shaw's Can't Stop Now is his first CD for Bob Koester's Delmark Records. With roots in the Delta, Shaw's wailin' and warblin' tenor sound has put grit and groove into the bandstands of some of Chicago's legends. Shaw has worked with many classic Chicago artists, including Magic Sam and Muddy Waters, but he's most often linked with Howlin' Wolf. He was the Wolf Gang's sax player, and he took over the band when Wolf passed away in 1976. His nod to Wolf here is an exuberant take on "Howlin' for My Darling."

Shaw's vocals aren't the most polished, but there's plenty of heart to make up for any lack of smoothness; his high-spirited approach is almost that of a blues-shouter. Check out "Chicago Man" or "I Gotta Tell Somebody" for invigorating combinations of Shaw's vocals and sax phrasings.

Two instrumentals offer Shaw the chance to let loose with his propulsive, grindin' sax, a unique combination of rhythm playing mixed with vigorous, rip-snortin' solo lines. The upbeat "Rockin' With Eddie" and the mournful, moanin'n'grindin' "Playin' the Blues" are excellent. "Playin' the Blues" also showcases Shaw's backing band, featuring son Eddie Vaan Shaw Jr. on guitar and Chicago keyboard vet Detroit Junior on piano. Tim Taylor, the son of guitarist Eddie Taylor, is the drummer. Another former member of the Wolf Gang, Lafayette "Shorty" Gilbert is the bass man.

It would be great if Can't Stop Now had devoted more attention to Shaw's notable saxophone style. If it has any shortcoming, it's that Shaw's sax work doesn't get enough play here.

-- B.J. Huchtemann

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