The way the title intro cut, I Wanna Put a Tiger in your Tank, rolls in is kinda like the Why Doncha? track off West, Bruce, & Laing's debut LP of the same name: a small wind-up and then a pitch bulldozing through the wall. And like that old estimable WBL threesome, MonkeyJunk is also trio format—sure, with simul-synch overdubs but nonetheless just the three gents and their bluesrock-soaked wits and fingers. But hold on, wait a minute, isn't Tiger a reissue of the band's 2009 gig??? It certainly is, cleaned up, remastered on the prestigious Stony Plain label, one of the best blues imprints in NorthAm (or anydamnwhere, for that matter), and with two unreleased tracks recorded just for this version.
Give Me Time wanders nicely into Al Basile / Duke Robillard soulblues territory, singer-guitarist Steve Marriner laying down the law pretty intensely while Tony D tosses in licks from that guitar of his before getting Chuck Berry / Bo Diddley / Billy Gibbons-esque in If You Were Mine—harmonica, also courtesy Marriner, taking up the wail in a middle eight just prior to a bit of duckwalking gee-tar. Drummer Matt Sobb maintains a really nice noisy thump throughout his buddy's soloing, adding racket to the harp's urgency. As the band lacks a bass player, and frames its music so as to miss nothing in the absence, Sobb creates a background sound that's both spare and fulsome, whatever's necessary to the moment. Don't ask me how he does it, he just does.
Warriner plays a tasty-ass organ, yanked in for When Push Comes to Shove right beside staccato chikken-pikken single-note guitar lines dropped beneath a second set of six-string leads flying above, suddenly trading the dozens with the keyboard. My favorite cut is the instrumental Beefy, funky as all get out, slo-chug rootsy, wallowing in earthy refrains trotted out with grit, backbone, and gusto. The cut flies straight back to the 60s and would've been a chockablock companion to the work of early Jethro Tull, Blodwyn Pig, Crow, and similar progressive blues ensembles. Then hop over to Pay the Cost if you want more of the same, with Marriner's vocals tacked on. As MonkeyJunk goes from award to award, is now Canada's most acclaimed blues/roots band, and has an increasingly bright future ahead of it, it's more than appropriate that this gem should re-emerge—and, man o man, the new sound matrix is cuh-leeeeeeeean!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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