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CD REVIEW: The Bluecats - Earthquake Mama (AWB Records)

By: Cyrus Rhodes


"rock solid"








Artist: The Bluecats
Album: Earthquake Mama
Label: AWB Records

Genre: R&B    
Sounds Like: Johnny Winter, Meatloaf, Blues Brothers  

Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/ Musicianship Grade: 9/10

Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Earthquake Mama, Jelly Roll, Makes Me Blue
Weakness: More Instrumentation, Repetitive Sound




4 piece blues band "The BlueCats" release their second CD entitled Earthquake Mama (AWB Records) in 2012. Band members include Tony (The Harpman) Battelle (Vocals and Harmonica), Steve Ebner (Drums), Keith Pittell (Guitar and Back-up Vocals), and Victor Patron (Bass).  The BlueCats are also joined on the album with Kirk Nelson (Keyboards) with guitar and arrangement contributions by B.B. Chung King, and Mark Newstetter. Juliette Angeli provided backup vocals.

The CD kicks things off with “Pocket full of Rain:” a perfect intro piece that serves up a slamming R&B groove that dishes out slamming saloon style Piano, hot harmonica against a driving rock rhythm and compelling vocal melodies from lyricist Battelle. Track 2 “Earthquake Mama” shifts gears with its rock steady rhythm, impressive solo guitar against infectious vocal melody with a a grand slam chorus. Track 3 keeps things moving in the right direction with “Does She Love Me”, a guitar driven melody from Battelle and company that peaks and valleys its way through emotional fruition. This CD makes a solid first impression and really never backs down track to track. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical elements reminiscent of such classic acts like Stray Cats, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Asbury Jukes, Johnny Winter, Meatloaf, and just a dash of Blues Brothers. The music itself is an amazing blend of no holds barred Rhythm and Blues, classic Saloon Jazz with a dash of Classic Rock. The musicianship of all the players involved is equally as impressive. The rhythm groove (Bass & Drums) is thick as a brick. Top to bottom this unit is rock solid. You will also notice lush layers of instrumentation layered everywhere. Besides the 4 piece standard you will notice impressive Piano, Harmonica, sizzling guitar licks, well placed Keyboard accents, and many lush harmonies layered everywhere. Kudos goes out to the slamming piano chops by Kirk Nelson and impressive writing by Pittell, but the most impressive thing about Earthquake Mama is the impressive vocal persona from Tony Battelle. His harmonica skills are to die for and his vocal delivery is spot on for this genre. From rocking “One More Whiskey” and Hard Hitting “Sneakin’ Round Back” to rock steady "Jelly Roll” to grooving “Knockin’" to smooth as silk “Makes Me Blue” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends striking "I Don’t Like You” and Track 12: "Hoochie Coochie Man”, the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber. 


It’s hard to find any solid weaknesses with this CD. I would however recommend just a tad more instrumentation. Things like Slide Guitar, Pedal Steel, Saxophone, Hammond Organ chops would bring more musical variety to the table thus making the CD sound a tad less repetitive overall.


The latest CD Earthquake Mama from “The BlueCats” is a solid and highly entertaining CD from start to finish. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature grooves. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this entire catalogue. The writing and playing abilities of "The BlueCats" are rock solid. It’s strength – the raw song for song intensity that keeps coming at you.  No doubt these guys are a total riot to check out live around Southern California. The music is nitty-gritty, rock solid, heavy and consistent. Like a heavy weight fighter this CD packs a powerful punch and goes the full 12 rounds with no sign of letting up. Earthquake Mama pretty much rocks the house – need I say more.


Cyrus Rhodes

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