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Big Jack Johnson and the Oilers Link:

MC Records

    Big Jack Johnson and the Oilers
    Roots Stew
    2000, MC Productions

Steam locomotives are evocative beasts. Big, burly, primitive and powerful. Some are sleek, steaming behemoths gliding smoothly into a gilded passenger terminal, others labor on industrial sidings and switching yards, unoticed yet moving with might and precision and others are like Big Boy, a gargantuan machine built to get the job done. Big Jack's blues are big, burly, primitive and powerful yet sleek and smooth, moving and precise, large and mighty, loud and proud. On his newest release the Oilman has gotten a recording that is worth its weight in clanking iron, puffing steam and hot burning coal. "Roots Stew" features Jack and the blues in all its incarnations. Acoustic gems shimmer like diamonds among coal while Delta manifestos are electrified and driven down the track by Jack's fiery guitar. The Oil Man takes the blues one step farther with a blending of country and looks at a real world of stark life with its joy and pain. "Roots Stew" highlights origins. The blues herewithin rocked before it ever rolled and rockabillys around the clock on "Diggin' My Potatoes." This is from a man whose background extends from Opryland where he bassed for Tammy Wynette, Carl Perkins and Conway Twitty to the seminal Delta juke joint band, The Jelly Roll Kings and now as the Oilers. Powerful, graceful, intent and visceral and, oh yeah, Wild Child Butler harps along. Fully excellent.—Mark Gresser

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