Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers
Switching Gears
Blind Pig 5045
If the title Switching Gears is intending to describe a notable change in style for veteran guitar ace Jimmy Thackery, then it's a bit of a misnomer. This is classic guitar-o-matic Thackery with a twist, courtesy of guest artists Chubby Carrier, Lonnie Brooks, Joe Louis Walker and Reba Russell. Carrier's accordion injects a distinct Louisiana feel to "Take Me With You When You Go." Brooks is fully up to the vocal challenge of B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault." Walker's 12-string acoustic work on "If This Is Love," with Thackery on six-string acoustic, provides a nice counterpoint to what is otherwise a decidedly electric set. (Acoustic Thackery is always welcome!)

The potpourri of visiting artists flavors the stew nicely but doesn't change its basic consistency. Thackery's blues inspiration was filtered through Jimi Hendrix, and he's a bluesman only to the extent that any Hendrix devotee can be. The addition of Al Gamble on Hammond B-3 organ and Joe McGlohon on sax (recreating the roles of Mike Finnigan and Freddie Smith, respectively, from Electric Ladyland) give Thackery an ample opportunity to flex his Jimi muscles on "Still Raining, Still Dreaming" and a brief reprise of the same. It's a worthy tribute. Similarly, "Gin in the Morning" is somewhere between Jimi's "In From the Storm," Muddy Waters' "Champagne and Reefer" and Robin Trower's "Day of the Eagle." Fine wah-wah action, and plenty of it.

Other distinctive cuts include an instrumental nod to the late Roy Buchanan ("Roy's Blues") and the upbeat rocker "Monkey."

The diversity of material and instrumentation, as well as the guest spots, combine to make Switching Gears Thackery's most entertaining electric effort since the stellar 1992 Empty Arms Hotel. If electric guitarslinging, blues and root-rock style is your fancy, Thackery will not disappoint you.

-- Bryan Powell

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