Follow Us on Twitter

Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave (Review)

Black Joe Lewis, Electric Slave

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

JOE Lewis was once compared to James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, and it’s easy to hear why. For although his new album, Electric Slave, mostly sees him letting his punk- flag fly, he can’t quite escape the funk that is also renowned with that icon.

And some of the main reasons for tuning in to this third LP from the Austin-based outfit is to see how he seamlessly mixes that funk into punk rock and mid-western blues.

Produced in large part by Grammy award winner Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power, Modest Mouse) and recorded at Church House Studios in Austin, the album opens in the most emphatic way possible with the immediate highlight Skulldiggin, which showcases Joe howling in true Joe-Lewis-fashion over some scuzzy guitar licks and a downright funky vibe. If you’ve dug recent music by The Heavy, then this should effortlessly ring your bell too.

It’s almost a shame that the remainder of the album can’t quite match that high. But it has a good time trying.

Young Girls is a hard-rockin’ tale of woman chasing that drops some classic rock ‘n’ roll/blues licks and even recalls classic Rolling Stones (Not Fade Away era), while Dar Es Salaaam drops in a more deliberate pace instrumentally, yet still finds Lewis in anguished form over the verses. The chorus, meanwhile, drops in some welcome brass and a mellower vocal that actually works to its advantage.

My Blood Aint Runnin’ Right adopts a similarly bluesy vocal and could even be a cheeky wink towards the hedonistic rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of the likes of Keith Richards, Come To My Party opens with a thrilling brass fanfare before dropping in a funky bassline and hitting you with the kind of feel-good jive that’s as at home on a disco dancefloor as it is in a rock stadium – likewise, the similarly rollicking Golem.

And Vampire is a southern slice of blues-funk that could quite easily be an ode to Bon Temps and True Blood.

There are times when the all-out rock lacks anything to make it special (Guilty and The Hipster just wash over you and disappear from memory as quickly as they arrive). But that doesn’t prevent Black Joe Lewis’ Electric Slave from mostly delivering a proper good time that’s steeped in classic values.

And for those intrigued by the name of the LP, here’s what Lewis has to say by way of explanation: “Electric Slave is what people are today with their faces buried in their iPhones and the only way to hold a conversation is through text. The next step is to plug it in to your damned head!”

You’ve been told! Now get your head out of your iPhone (or download the below recommended tracks onto your phone) and get some decent listening in!

Download picks: Skulldiggin, Dar Es Salaaam, Come To My Party, Vampire

Track listing:

  1. Skulldiggin
  2. Young Girls
  3. Dar Es Salaaam
  4. My Blood Aint Runnin’ Right
  5. Guilty
  6. Come To My Party
  7. Vampire
  8. Make Dat Money
  9. The Hipster
  10. Golem
  11. Mammas Queen