Album review of The Cash Box Kings’ ‘Black Toppin’

The Cash Box Kings
“Black Toppin’”
Blind Pig
****

By Mike Greenblatt

A worthy successor the 2011 Blind Pig debut “Holler and Stomp,” The Cash Box Kings’ “Black Toppin’” has this ferocious blues band belting out what they call “bluesabilly” in a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, over-the-top rock ’n’ roll aesthetic. Hell, they even cover the Velvet Underground on Lou Reed’s “Run Run Run,” and it doesn’t sound all that different from Willie Dixon’s “Too Late,” the band’s boppin’ originals or the traditional “Walking Blues.”

Cash Box Kings Black ToppinThis is the real deal. Sure, The Cash Box Kings may take from ’40s and ’50s post-war Chicago blues, add some ’20s and ’30s Mississippi Delta blues and some ’60s adventurism, and it all comes out as a barrelhouse, honky-tonk good time.

Singer/songwriter Joe Nosek has a flair for assimilation. When he chooses to just blow his blues harp and let singer Oscar Wilson shine, the ante is upped. Throw Beedy Eyes Smith on drums and not-so-secret weapon Joel Paterson on guitar amid a rotating cast of seven other dyed-in-the-wool stalwarts who can add pumpin’ piano Jerry Lee-style, mandolin and upright bass depending upon the track, and you’ve got one sawdust-on-the-floor Memphis Saturday night.

So go ahead, get stoned on this great stuff. But, as Ray Charles used to sing, “Don’t go messin’ up the man’s place.”

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