Reverend Raven
Big Bee
Land O' Blues Records
Run Time: 60:28

Rik Raven & His Chain Smoking Altar Boys have been the namesake of Wisconsin's Blues Scene for a while now. This nugget of straight no chaser Chicago Blues came out in 2007 and packed a veritable punch. I made no bones about wanting to snatch this disc up and give it a listen after I saw Raven & Co. (with the new line-up that's not included on this disc) play The Alamo earlier this year. Raven walked on tables and around the bar and outside the bar, conjuring thoughts of the days on Chicago's West Side when Buddy Guy and Friends were redefining the electric blues.

There's no contrivances on this album. There's no filler. There's nothing to really debate or anything to think hard about. This is the electric blues. Given that Raven isn't trying to change the musical landscape or rivet our minds with mind-blowing ingenuity. This isn't homage nor is it a museum piece. This is straight ahead good, fun music. It is the blues as its meant to be played. Benny Rickun's harmonica is front and center almost through the entirety of the disc. There is some very laced and few and far between solos by the Rev, and when they are taken, they are fine and tasteful. Rickun and drummer Spencer Podash are two up and comers in the Milwaukee Blues scene. Rickun is a protege of Milwaukee harpster Jim Liban, who adds two songs to the proceedings. Raven has always been known to bring a good harpster to his table, and did so with this young tasteful player. Rickun, however, is no longer on tour with the Alter Boys. Bassist P.T. Pederson spent the majority of the 60s and 70s cutting his teeth in Charlie Musselwhite's band, so you know I've got no complaints there.

If you've listened to Muddy, Buddy, Slim Harpo, Magic Sam, Otis Rush, or The Wolf; many of these grooves won't be unfamiliar. Raven is just as sharp with his lyrics. Big Bee was one of the highlights of 2007 and is a great introduction for new fans to the sounds of Reverend Raven.

REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR can you not like a band called that? I don't know about you, but if I'm cruising the blues bins at the local record mart, this ones going in my cart on the name alone. C'mon, how can you go wrong? Anyone creative and daring enough to call his band REVEREND RAVEN AND HIS CHAIN SMOKING ALTAR BOYS has gotta have some talent.....and man this band does.

REVEREND RAVEN, author of most of the discs songs, leads the band on vocals and guitar, and the CSAB's are P. T. PEDERSON on bass, SPENCER PODASH on drums and BENNY RICKUN on harmonica.

"BIG BEE" opens with "MY LIFE", one of the discs many originals. It's a quick little number that gives you a taste of what's to come - lot's of great guitar and harmonica work backed up by some very tight rhythm with lots of well done vocals.

"SOMEDAY WHEN I'M DEAD AND GONE" is a sizzling jam with everyone at their peak. It's unquestionably one of the discs hottest tracks. Grooves this tight are what separates the professionals from the amateurs. This is the kind of stuff, that at live shows, causes everyone in the audience to look like a bunch of bobble heads and shuts up those obnoxious talkers by commanding even their attention. Man, It just doesn't get much better than this (said as the replay button's getting hit).

If hard blowing harp blues gets your blues boat floating, you're going to love "YOU AIN'T NO FRIEND OF MINE". By the end of this track, BENNY RICKUN is going to be a very good friend of yours. Aside from some great vocals by the REVEREND, this one's all about BENNY and his blowin'. Another of the discs continuous list of highlights.

"TWO TIMES FINE" is an all out rhythm race. As rapid as it is, SPENCER & P. T. are keeping perfect time. As one speeds it up, the other automatically keeps pace in this obvious dead heat. If you're a toe and finger tapper, loosen up before this track - it's gonna be like aerobics.

The pace may mellow a bit, but the groove is still constant on "HERE COMES MY BABY". This one finds REV and CSAB'S feelin' a bit funky - and that's a good thing. With redundancy at risk, once again, everyone's on their mark with REV'S vocals and guitar licks leading the way.

"BENNY'S BOUNCE". With a name like this, and being written by the harp player - BENNY RICKUN, need I say more? Of course not - you already know this one is three minutes of all out, no holds barred, wailing, harp playing - at it's best.

Other tracks on "BIG BEE", which equally wonderful things can be said about are: "BIG BEE", "ONCE THE WOMEN START TALKIN", "I DON'T WANT TO KNOW", "DON'T GET ON THE WRONG SIDE OF MY BABY", "BAD LITTLE GIRLS", "I WANNA LOVE YOU" and "SHE'S MOVIN ON".

Translated from German to English: From the South Side of Chicago originating, is a guitarist, singer and songwriter Reverend Raven has been in the business for some time. Since 1971, more precisely when he first saw Freddie King Live. After 15 years in the Navy moved the Reverend after Milwaukee and did with the long-harmonica player Jimmy Rogers', Madison Slim together. Meanwhile, the Americans to a Fixgröße the scene, with numerous awards to the book ended Wisconsin Music Industry. Reverend Raven moves in the tradition of earthy, electric blues, with a smoky voice and extensive guitar solos. A particularly happy hands, he also always in the selection of his harmonica player, this time with the young Benny Rickun on the Mississippi saxophone. Stylistically, the band somewhat reminiscent of Little Charlie & The Night Cats, extensive harmonica solos included. The Reverend Raven on solid experience, inter alia, on the Maxwell Street, with each track is audible. It becomes clear that he is among the best guitarists of the genre is one that we hear about the nonchalance of his guitar work on "Once The Women Start Talking". But Benny Rickun must be the absolute, promising Könnern his instrument counted, dirty, down home and yet virtuosity. Like him about the sounds on "You Is not No Friend Of Mine" moves, leaves no stone unturned. Muddy Waters and Little Walter can greet! - DiHo

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