This one starts out with twang 'n stomp just before The Rev. Jimmie Bratcher commences to shout 'n testify, showin' y'all why he's Secretly Famous…but the reasons ain't all that covert, dear parishioners 'cause the ingredients to his juju are plain as day: it's everything, brothers and sisters, it's everything, 'n I'm here to tell ya why. Open yer hymnals to page 666, to Lord A'mighty, Doth the Right Rev Harbor Angels or Demons in His Haunted Soul?, cue the chapel organist to lay down that suspicious smelling cigarette she's a-puffin' on, tell them wayward souls to quit throwin' dice over by the baptismal font, and I'll hip you up to the lowdown.
Brother Bratcher's band runs three total in number, they's a power trio with a mite o' help on keys from Rick Steff, who runs the the local Bluesoholics chapter of A.A. hereabouts but gets suspiciously few off the habit (none in fact!), but, like the deacons of all good stripped-down ensembles, Bro Bratch flexes an uncannily well-honed hand in every aspect of his music-making, never hurrying the tempo or bulking the riffs up against themselves, each measure in every song well laid out just like nuggets of turquoise in a necklace. In that, 'perspicacity' might be the best adjective to grace the man's talent, that trait of being able to sculpt a defined modus rather than toss in everything possible in a forested thicket of blaring sound. What eventuates is more than fulsome enough, vibrant and heavy but carved with care, a lot like what Billy Gibbons, Kim Simmonds, and Paul Kossoff have done, much more concentrated on purity and tone than pyrotechnics and flurries.
Like a blend of old Free, Z.Z. Top (pre-synths), and Savoy Brown's high period (Blue Matter, etc.) with some tempered Johnny Winter tossed in amid a lot of the old 70s bluesrockin' style, Bratcher plays and sings in clear soulful delineation (so add a little Electric Flag there too), chunkily arranged but smooth, easy to fall into, hard to escape from. Oddly enough, I was just the other night again listening to an old fave way-back LP, The Association's Insight Out, and Jimmie here covers their chartbuster Never My Love, taking the hit out of its beautiful but clinical cathedral and laying it down on the back porch, a soul-stripped-bare re-commitment to his wife in simple jes' you, jes' me terms. Two cuts later, however, he's tickling ribs in Bologna Sandwich Man, a Ben Sidranish track that'll drag you back to high school days with headlong speed and a raft of chuckles. All of the CD everywhere, though, is blues, and so…
…and so we come to Judgement Day, dear laity: Brother Bratcher is indeed a bona fide preacher—I ain't lyin!—and not only hides no demons but, when not crossing the globe to spread music, reaches his hand out to the downtrodden, communing with souls who've contracted infernal influences. And then he plays gigs for those in imprisoned, one of the few religionists actually taking on the Christ-ian obligation rather than running TV ministry marathons for the gullible and their armchair megabucks. How in hell (and heaven!) he manages to get so rockin', rollin', boogyin', stump-jumpin', down home cool-ass cool is beyond me, but I guess when you're right with the infinite, you're right with everything. Preach on, Brother Jim, preach on…but don't never lay that gee-tar down neither.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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