It’s what you would expect from a man tutored by the High Priest of Polyester and pastor of The First House Of Polyester Worship and Horizontal Throbbing Teenage Desire, electrifin’ boogie-woogie at warp speed, a piano-pounding ministry powerful enough to raise the dead and scald the living with righteous piano fervor. Victor Wainwright was schooled by The Reverend Billy C. Wirtz, who in turn passed along his skills gleaned from a live-in apprenticeship with Sunnyland Slim. Pinetop Perkins is the one who helped Wainwright hone his skills, taking him on the road with him. Wainwright developed a muscular style of boogie-woogie that incorporates the best of Perkins’ backwoods boogie and Sunnyland Slim’s more uptown, fluid style with the fire and religious fervor of Wirtz.
His band is new for this outing, but Wainwright’s sound is the same hard-charging boogie he’s become known for. On “Train,” Wainwright’s roaring like a conductor with a snoofull of cinders, his piano rocking so hard it’s about to knock the train off the tracks. Reba Russell provides the train whistle woo-woos in the background over the propulsive brass of Mark Earley’s sax and Doug Woolverton’s trumpet, Pat Harrington’s guitar electrifing the rails.
Wainwright tosses in a changeup on the Leon Russell-esque “Dull Your Shine,” a laid-back, swampy ramble till Harrington lights a searing guitar flare in the middle before Wainwright takes it back to the marsh with his rumbly narrative.
Wainwright introduces “Thank You Lucille” as a song he wrote in memory of B.B. King immediately after his passing, a tribute to King’s lifelong companion, his guitar he named Lucille. It turns into an old school recitation in the middle, Wainwright eulogizing King’s guitar: “When I think of all the audiences you’ve been held in front of, all the lights you’ve shined under, and all the hearts you’ve filled with hope and happiness, I’m overwhelmed with inspiration,” Wainwright says, as Harrington invokes the spirit of King’s guitar.
“Boogie Depression” is a homage to Jerry Lee Lewis, a rippling, rollicking, rocker invoking the Killer’s style and spirt as Wainwright proclaims that “playing the piano can cure my depression.”
“I’ll Start Tomorrow” is the pianist’s response to his doctors advice to slow down, slim down, and start living right. Wainwright makes up his mind to do things his way, preferring to get his exercise through the pursuit of full tilt boogie.
The cars may be different, but the same engineer’s at the throttle, shakin’ ratttlin’, and rollin’ this Train down the tracks at breakneck speed for a bumpy but exhilarating ride.