Cash Box Kings CD Review

Apr 18, 2023 | CD Review, Suncoast Blues News

For their third release on Alligator Records, the Cash Box Kings are back with another marvelous release that revels in the electric Chicago blues traditions. Right from the jump, the title track finds lead singer Oscar Wilson making sure the ladies know he is available to cure their ills, punctuating the proceedings with Wolf-like moans. The mournful tones from Joe Nosek’s harmonica create a telling down-home feel.

Guitarist Billy Flynn shows off his stellar slide work on “Trying So Hard,” while Wilson offers a dark laments about his woman troubles. Drummer Kenny Smith reminds us that he is the master of the shuffle on “Pontiac Blues,” with John W. Lauler matching him every step of the way on his upright bass. Since the passing of Barrelhouse Chuck, Lee Kanehira has been handling the keyboards, subtly filling out the arrangements. She gets a chance to shine on the sprightly “I Want What Chaz Has,” while Wilson and guest John Nemeth take turns expressing their admiration for a major player around town

Nosek takes over the vocal on “Hot Little Mess,” deep in the throes of love over a woman with plenty of issues. The soothing tones from Al Falaschi on tenor and baritone saxophone offer a measure of comfort. “She Dropped The Axe On Me” lays out the inevitable results of his ill-fated relationship, leaving him little choice but to pick up his harp and blow his blues away.

Other highlights include “Please Have Mercy,” with Wilson demonstrating his mastery of the slow blues lament, the band coming together once again in the intricate musical dialogue that is the hallmark of finest blues performances. Even better is the hilarious run-through of “I Can’t Stand You,” as guest vocalist Deitra Farr and Wilson air out the details of their on-going Facebook “feud”. Horns brighten the arrangement on “Down On The South Side”. Wilson narrates the typical goings-on to be found in the clubs and taverns in Chicago’s famous blues area on the weekends, while doing his best to focus on his female companion.

The closing tune, ‘Ride Santa Ride, “ proves to be more than a seasonal throw-off, with Flynn firing off his best Berry-esque licks while Kanehira pounds away on her piano. Wilson does his part, turning in one more inspired vocal turn that finishes off another stellar effort from one of the finest blues bands on the planet. Highly recommended!

Mark Thompson

Reprinted by permission from Blues Music Magazine, Issue #37, Spring 2023