(4 / 5)
If I said Ted Horowitz has a great new record out in the blues / blues-rock genre, it may well attract blank stares and little else.
But for those in the know, it will prompt a smile and a quickened pulse rate. US guitarist and singer-songwriter Ted is better known by his moniker of 25 years; Popa Chubby. Ahhh, now do you get me? The 57-year-old native New Yorker is on top form: 13 cuts, including two so-called live ‘bonus’ tracks.
With a performance style on guitar that he describes as “The Stooges meets Buddy Guy, Motorhead meets Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson”, the man takes absolutely no prisoners when he straps that axe to his chest.
I suppose the best advice to be given prior to sticking this, or any of his previous more than two dozen albums on, is to play the bugger very loud. If you get complaints from neighbours, family, friends or fellow work colleagues, turn it up to a Spinal Tap 11 and maybe they’ll get to love it too! If not, you’ll never hear their whining anyway.
Theodore Joseph “Ted” Horowitz, was born in the Bronx, New York in 1960. As predominantly a blues man back then, in his early 20s he backed punk rock poet Richard Hell. But Horowitz first came to public attention after winning a national blues talent contest run by a California radio station. He won the ‘New Artist of the Year’ award and won the chance to open the Long Beach Blues Festival in 1992.
Through the 1990s, he played more than 200 club dates a year. His Sony/Okeh debut album, “Booty and the Beast”, was produced by legendary Atlantic Records engineer/producer Tom Dowd, who also worked on recordings for the likes of icons Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. Popa Chubby has circa 27 albums to his credit and several DVDs.
“Two Dogs” is produced and engineered by Don Chubblione, another Horowitz pseudonym. Chubby plays guitar, lead vocals and percussion….Drums on “Cayophus Dupree” and “Me Won’t Back Down” (his first instrument when he was 12) and bass on five tracks. Sam Bryant drums on all but three. Andy Paladino bass on seven cuts.
The aptly named Dave Keyes on keyboards. Tipitina Horowitz on trumpet and horn arrangements, Andrew Garrrison on tenor sax. Drums and bass on the track, “Sympathy For The Devil”, supplied by Andrea Beccaro and Francesco Beccaro.
The opener, “It’s Alright” is a commercial cut, radio-friendly and harks back to 70s Prog. The second cut in, “Rescue Me” rocks it up on a ZZ Top meets 50s rock and roll vibe. Nice groove nailed on the horn-soaked and soulful boogie, “Pre-existing Conditions”, which features some lovely brush strokes on guitar, nodding to the likes of Steve Cropper.
I dug the track, “Sam Lay’s Pistol”. The title song is a decent job too. There’s a hint of Chubby’s background on the New York punk scene in his younger days, on one of my faves here; “Dirty Old Blues”, which harks back to the sound of Iggy and the Stooges. Really cool, and I’d love to hear him do a full album of this kind of punk meets blues, rambunctious stuff.
Nice urgent cover of the Stones fabulous “Sympathy For The Devil”, one of the two live bonus cuts. Popa’s growling vocal suits this song. Lovely stripped down guitar, piano and vocal version of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 classic “Hallelujah”, as the second live offering. Probably the best vocal on the record. His control is palpable. Popa Chubby will always be talked about as a guitarist first and foremost, but his voice across this record is on an equal footing with his fretboard skills.
Talking of which; he is a very versatile player and is not all about blistering solos. But when it is called for, he steps up to the plate and whacks it out of the park. Blues fans love him, but there’s a heck of a lot more to this guy than just the one genre.
This is a powerful and impressive set; and shows the big man with the big sound has not run out of ideas or creativity after 25 years, and more albums under his belt in that time than most artists could dream of in an entire lifetime. This big old road dog is not at all tamed, just yet. So don’t even think about tickling his belly when you meet him at a gig!
- Popa Chubby has a marathon European tour throughout November and December. But there’s the promise of UK dates early in 2018…
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’