There are few "retro" trends more gratifying than the current blues tendency going first back to the founding era (perhaps seen most clearly in Bernie Pearl's work (here) and then to the 60s/70s interregnum when Brits were twisting the living bejeezus out of what African-Americans had created. In that, labels like Vizz Tone have been excelling in turning up the heat, and now Blues Leaf Records has released this gent's third disc, a wailing delight of searing guitar work.
Albert Castiglia plays a very well-defined hard-edged axe, the instrumental counterpart of a blues shouting singer, amped-up, sweating, and incapable of holding back, passionate and then some. He also sings, however, and in just as clear a sonority, throaty and up-front, but when his hands take over, back off or get singed. A.J. Kelly (bass) and Bob Amsel (drums) pull their caps down lower and lean into the wind, providing a Rock of Gibralter rhythm section buttressed here and there by session players: Bill "Mighty" Quinn slides right in with a groovin' organ, flanking A.J. and Bob, expanding atmospheres while leaving Castiglia to juggernaut his way into the skies. Wait 'til you hear how the guy beefs up on Bobby Z's Till I Fell in Love with You.
And, man o' man, the take on Peter Green's Could Not Ask for More is slinky and rough simultaneously, a cut that would've fit right into the killer Rattlesnake Shake tribute CD as a knowingly recontextualized interpretation of the song. Keepin' On never really mellows out, there's too much fire in it for that. Even when Castiglia takes up an acoustic for a couple of tracks, there's an underlying verve and it illuminates his own Sweet Southern Angel while indexing the guy's singing to perfection. Then catch Toby Walker's dobro, esp. in Murderin' Blues, as the two capture the atmosphere of delta blues uncorrupted, bright while balmy.
It doesn't take long here before you readily understand why ZZ Top, Elvin Bishop, and The Radiators invited this guy to open for them on tour. And, frankly, I'm not sure I don't like his acoustic materials as much as the fireball electric, 'cause there's a ironclad backbone of authenticity grabbing the ears as fiercely as the high voltage cuts.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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