Blues Bytes
October 2003
Blues Money WTCD001

This was the first of a CD trilogy that would guarantee Michael Pickett a spot in Canadian music history. In 1998 and 1999 respectively, this disc (Pickett's first solo effort in a career spanning more than 30 years) was voted Blues Album Of The Year by Real Blues magazine and the Jazz Report Awards. Additionally, Real Blues selected "World Gone Crazy" as the Blues Song Of The Year. Surely, one of the many reasons for these awards is the sharp production by Pickett and Doug Romanow. Also contributing to the huge success of the album were the cohesive and invincible musicians who performed on it. Not counting the backing vocalists, an entourage of 17 were involved with this recording. They included: Teddy Leonard, Neil Chapman, Slavka Kobrin, Colin Linden, Mike Francis (guitars), Steve Chadwick, Leo Valvassori, Malcolm McCuaig (bass), Marty Cordrey, Dale-Anne Brendon, Shawn Eisenberg (drums), Rob Greenway (percussion), John Johnson (sax), Gord Myers (trombone) and Richard Bell, Doug Riley, Doug Romanow (keys).

Michael handles vocals, harp and guitar on all 12 tunes on this 52-minute disc. Each features his music and lyrics with styles ranging from shuffling boogies to urban, contemporary blues. The explosive harp solo hints at Armageddon on "World Gone Crazy." Here, Leonard's guitar is its usual catchy and groovy self. His style returns and proves to be irresistible on the hip-grindin' "Shake." Here, the percussion adds further celebration to a party that has already begun while the sax blows strong enough to march the saints on in. The title track contains a butt-shakin' and ass-kickin' arrangement with powerful drums that pound a pattern deep into your cerebrum. "The Sweetest Sound" is a radio-friendly power ballad with remarkable vocal harmonies. It is a touching song about the true love shared between Pickett and his sweetest gal. The acoustic guitar is distinguished and combined with Romanow's accordion presents a taste of Louisiana. The piano is central on "1988," and it immediately gets your toes tapping. "Work So Hard" is a driving number that features a guest appearance by one of Canada's best guitarists, songwriters and producers, Colin Linden. We can all relate to its lyrics with words such as: 'spending money's real easy, how come the work so hard.'

This group effort was a great achievement thanks to all involved. At times, Michael blows up a tornado with his harp as on "Trouble," but the multiple musicians allows mesh as a single unit. There may not be enough cyclone-like harmonica solos for the fanatics and, at times, the vocals become a shout and a scream. These up-tempo eclectic roots rock tunes will appeal to many. Since Pickett changed is format to acoustic blues a few years ago, your only chance to hear them performed with a full electric band is on this CD. So go out and get it!

Tim Holek


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