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Uneven but interesting

Boom Boom
Boom Boom
By Johnny Copeland

Rounder Records: 1989

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This review first appeared in the May/June 1990 issue of Living Blues magazine.

Johnny Copeland's latest, "Boom Boom," starts off as a kind of funky, on-the-edge-of-the-blues album. And while that edge does not lost throughout, this is nevertheless a very interesting, if not great, effort.

The most enigmatic cut (all nine songs were written by Copeland) is "Daily Bread," a slow piece in which is sings in a low, undertaker-toned voice. The feel of the songs, like several others ("Nobody But You," "Flamin' Mamie" and "Blues All Over") is paced by a rapidly repeated three-chord riff laid down on rhythm guitar, presumably by guest guitarist Joel Perry. It is this hypnotic repetition that gives "Daily Bread" an almost surreal quality. In addition to Perry's rhythm work, regular backing guitarist Ken Pino takes the lead on this song.

"Nobody But You" starts the album off, and features the same rhythmic patter as "Daily Bread," but in a more subdued manner. Copeland takes a lengthy solo here on guitar that fans of his Grammy-winning "Showdown!" (with Albert collins and Robert Cray) should appreciate.

On "Texas Party," Copeland returns to his past sound, with full-throated vocals and plenty of flamboyant guitar solos. (He also includes a nod to Collins in the lyrics.)

"I Was Born All Over" is constructed like one of those rock anthems the pimple-faced set is always blaring, with overly dramatic build-ups and overdrawn solos.

The closest to a traditional blues found here is "Cut Off My Right Arm," which is a slow, wailing piece. A song titled "Blues Ain't Nothing" isn't really blues, but is a reworking of the weird "Daily Bread."

This is an interesting but uneven album. Fans of Copeland will most likely enjoy it; with others, it's a crapshoot.