Blues Revue is one of the worlds biggest magazine subscriptions devoted strictly to blues music. This CD music review is from issue 44 from January/February 1999. The front cover features the late John Lee Hooker and daughter Zakiya.
cd review by Art Tipaldi
> The Dennis McClung Blues Bands Prisoner Of The Blues (CD)
If you asked me to guess where the Dennis McClung Blues Band hailed from, based only on the group's sound, my answer would be some Windy City tavern--not the rolling hills of West Virginia. That's the pulse this unit has its finger on. From the first cut of Prisoner Of The Blues, what separates this effort from the work of other regional bands is the intensity in McClung's voice. The abrasive crush between his in-the-gutter vocals, Joe Sabatino's dirty harmonica and McClung 's caustic slide make many of the tunes here winners.
Recording time-honored classics can spell doom for a new band; McClung's arrangements, however, uncover subtle changes that add freshness to the three covers. John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" is played with an upbeat, jazzy shuffle instead of Hooker's usual boogie. Willie Dixon's "Red Rooster" utilizes the stop-time feel employed in other Dixon tunes. The band couples this with a tempo that lurches forward, allowing ample time for listeners to hear and appreciate the contributions each instrument makes. And their version of "The Sky Is Crying" avoids becoming another high-octane Stevie imitation, instead finding its power in McClung's potent voice and precise, stinging lead guitar.
The remaining tunes serve up relationship-themed blues. Each of the six originals dwells in either the "I'm losing you" category or the "I need to start lovin' you better" realm. The lyrics to "Everything but You" epitomize a '90s-style breakup, suggesting that possessions can't make up for the loss of a person. Attention, husbands: To gain precious blues points, write a line or two from "Til the Day I Die" on your next anniversary card. The closing track, "Back in Your Arms Again," does its reconciling with an acoustic guitar and Texas-style swing. Geography lovers take note: West Virginia is home to "Mountain Stage, Blues Revue and the Dennis McClung Blues Band.
---BLUES REVUE MAGAZINE (JAN.-FEB. 1999 ISSUE)---
---Blues Revue Magazine is the largest selling blues publication in the world---
Deeelicious When It's Hot!, (06/05/02)
BluesWax music review cd Prisoner of the Blues. DJ GaryBlues calls the cd "a hot and tasty album".
I love tasty Blues, served up hot and intense. Sometimes you can just tell from a CD that the band just might be the kind you'd like to feast on in a hot, smoky club. Prisoner Of The Blues is just that kind of CD. The Dennis McClung Blues Band, which hails from West Virginia, is starting to make a name for them selves. They play at festivals in and around West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and this CD was recorded at Audiomation Studios in Pittsburgh. It has a quality sound that is hard to come by—it takes a great engineer and Jim Kopaz does the honors here. The band achieves a smokin' hot feel that captures the feel of a live performance.
The album features only three covers—Elmore James' "The Sky Is Crying," Willie Dixon's "The Red Rooster" and John Lee Hooker's "Dimples." All are done exceptionally well with great arrangements and no overdone feeling to the trio of tunes. "Rooster" has a great vocal and stinging slide guitar. Give it a listen. You'll see why this band is HOT! I liked "Seven Ways," which has a really nice jump to it. "'Til The Day I Die" comes across with a great vocal & nice harp by Joe Sabatino. The other tunes are all penned by McClung and are basic but good lyrically. The guitar work is fluent and solid but even more, the whole band is very together and sounds strong. There are especially good drums and bass on this CD making the whole recording very solid.
Members include Dennis McClung on guitar, slide and vocals, David Sbarra on Bass, Dave Spencer on guitar, Joe Sabatino on harp, Gary Harki on drums and Bo Metz on acoustic guitar. This lineup has changed since the CD and the new lineup is on their website, so do a search on them. The band is, so far, unsigned. I would suggest that you hear them if they come around. This is a DEEElicious CD!
Deeelicious When It's Hot!, (06/05/02)
DJ GaryBlues BluesWax