You know that an album is going to be good when you inadvertently think to yourself, “I’m going to like this!” within the first ten seconds. It should come as no surprise that the person who parlayed such a reaction is none other than the Chicago Blues luminary Studebaker John with his latest album Old School Rockin’ from Delmark Records. John’s latest is a collection of 14 self-penned tracks that have a much more classic rock n’ roll feeling than his last, That’s The Way You Do, which was an impressive Chicago Blues homage.
The sparseness of the musicians is part of Rockin’s charm, which a drummer and bassist for most of the tracks, with the exception of some lean harmonica and B3 where necessary. Hard driving guitar, overdriven, in your face slide that would make Thorogood jealous, and a throwback rock sound give this album the sort of retro in-your-face feeling that classic rockers built entire empires upon.
The opening track, “Rockin’ That Boogie”, sets the stage for the kind of hot guitar and unique vocal work that the album is made of. “Fine Little Machine” is a Stones-esque, early hard rock number — infectious in it’s slide-heavy rhythm and euphemism. “Old School Rockin'” would have felt right at home in the Kings of Rhythm’s repertoire, with the overdriven guitar. The track is the longest on the album, though, droning on for over 6 without doing much for the latter half of the song. The harmonica that graces “Tumblin’ Down the Road”, coupled with the deep blues lyrics, gives it that down-home bluesy feeling.
The celebrated Chicago master Studebaker John brings electricity and fire on this album, truly showing off his diversity and keeping his sound cool and fun even after decades on the Chicago blues circuit. Laced with early rock n’ roll and boogie blues, and peppered with fast-paced harmonica solos and the kind of hot slide work that gets you grooving in the best possible way. Evoking a sort of classic rock feel that could be compared to The Stones, ZZ Top or Ike Turner, Old School Rockin’ lets the rhythm and vocals be the centerpiece of an album that has the most accurately descriptive title imaginable… John is rockin’ old school.