If you need to get whomped upside the head with some slam-bang guitar, Seth Lee Jones is your go-to string-puller. The blues-rockin’ Oklahoman demonstrates his prowess on a powerhouse sampling of iconic blues covers on his latest outing, Flathead.
Clearly, Billy Gibbons’ fingers have been in Jones’ ears, creating a ZZTop-ian soundscape that resembles the output of that little ol’ band from Texas no matter who the original belonged to. Even Muddy’s “I Cant Be Satisfied” gets re-routed from Chicago to Texas for a gritty takeover that takes blues out of the big city back alleys and lets it run around unfettered in a rural Westerly direction.
Roosevelt Sykes’ 1936 slow drag, piano-driven bloozer “Drivin’ Wheel” now sounds like it just spun off ZZ Top’s sleek ’33 Coupe Eliminator and is careening madly down the highway behind them.
Don Williams had a career-defining hit in 1978 with “Tulsa Time,” written by North Carolina singer-songwriter Danny Flowers and covered the same year by Eric Clapton. Flowers was in Williams’ band, which was opening for Clapton at the time. Tulsa natives drummer Jamie Oldaker, bassist Carl Radle, and keyboardist Dick Sims were in Clapton’s band back then, and their contributions helped establish the Tulsa sound, a laid-back front porch rocker vibe a bit slower-paced than Clapton’s chunky take. Jones puts plenty of stank on his, splashing through a mess of Texas mud on his way to the promised land, wailing like Bob Seger fronting the Top.
“Mary Ann” was on Ray Charles’ 1957 eponymous debut, re-released as Hallelujah I Love Her So in 1962. It’s a tempo-switching, twitchy exercise in pre-funk. But where Charles takes a break from the Latin beat and gets all big-band soulful, Jones plops down a sizzling skillet full of greasy blues before going back to snapping at the heels of the samba-inducing melody line.
“You Gonna Wreck My Life” is Howlin’ Wolf at his bone-chilling best. No matter how bad you think you are, you ain’t gonna out howl the Wolf. Jones has enough sense and respect to cover the Wolf without trying to smother him, stretching out the relentless guitar jabs a tad, lubricating it with some Top grease.
More of Jones’ blooze whompin’ talents are on display in his contributions to 2020’s Back To Paradise: A Tulsa Tribute to Okie Music, but if you want to get the full frontal onslaught in Tulsa time, this is the place to be.