Well, there are half-naked women all over the liner, so that's a damn good start, and Kenny Tsak sure as hell knows who to listen to: Frank Marino (one of my all-time faves), Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, etc. Like I Do is your basic white blues delivered sans extraneous bells and whistles, concentrating on shuffles, slo-blues, and melody, not to mention Tzak's (Kenny Tsakanikas) ultra-clean playing, which also incorporates Stevie Ray and a bit of the very early Michael Schenker (listen to those little embellishments during his solo in Full-Time Lover, not to mention the phrasing, and just try to tell me I'm wrong!). And should I mention there's a touch of Elvis here and there?
Of huge importance to Like I Do's sound is keyboardist James Holt, who takes the place of three, rounding out the roster very nicely indeed. Without him, Kenny would be hard pressed, sweating to get the same atmosphere. The two work like hand in glove, and the guitar player gives him plenty of room to strut his stuff, making a great counterpoint to his own harder-edged instrumental approach elsewhere. Tsak's voice is gruff and terse, a lot like his playing. On the strings, he doesn't ride a note out like Rory did (and Gallagher was the absolute master of it: one listen to Irish Tour, the Montreux recordings, and some of the bootleg materials show it with exactitude) or launch the fusillade solos Marino does, but rather keeps to raw clipped cascades of notes a lot like Johnny Winter.
Tsakanikas writes and plays a lot like later Kim Simmonds in his post-Youlden Savoy Brown, turning to boogie and basics, wringing that neck like the masters of early days, observing tight signatures and designated structures. This is what Eric Gales and a large handful of the flash in the pans should've been doing…but writing and playing this way is dangerous: you either nail that transition point between the 50s and the 60s/70s or it rapidly turns tepid, lukewarm. Tsak keeps the fires alive in a way that Status Quo never did, and one can't help but feel that he's just getting started. The killer interplay between him and Joey Gilmore, the high point of the CD, proves it, as he's already stepping into his next phase. Forget Mato Nanji and Luke Mulholland, this is the guy you need to be listening to—when he cranks up, the men get separated from the boys.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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