Review: “Painkillers” by Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg
Albums of cover songs too often fail to impress, since the versions, if not carbon copies of the originals, are usually poorly done. Of course, that is not always the case, and it certainly isn’t so with the new Alive Naturalsound Records release, “Painkillers,” a collaborative effort between members of two of today’s more notable two-piece bands, guitarist and singer Fredrick “Joe” Evans IV and drummer Brenn “Sausage Paw” Beck of Left Lane Cruiser and keys specialist and vocalist John Wesley Myers (aka James Leg) of Black Diamond Heavies. Firstly, the reworkings of the songs reflect the distinct sounds of the artists covering them, giving each one a little something new. And second, the artists managed to put together a pretty great selection of cover songs.
In addition to Evans, Beck and Leg, the skills of two other artists were employed to round out the material on “Painkillers” — music producer, studio engineer and musician Jim Diamond on bass, and seasoned bluesman Harmonica Shah on harp. And there is definitely some chemistry there.
As far as the songs they chose to cover, the album opens with the gritty and hard-hitting Sad Days Lonely Nights by the great Junior Kimbrough. After that they go into a lively rendition of Hound Dog Taylor’s She’s Gone. Other than their cover of Robert Johnson’s Ramblin’ On My Mind, those two are my favorites on the album. That’s not to say that the other songs aren’t of the same quality; they are all damn good, in fact. Among them are Red Rooster by W. Dixon, If 6 Was 9 by Jimi Hendrix, and Shake It by John Lee Hooker. Definitely the sort of songs one would expect from such highly regarded blues rock artists as the ones involved with this particular album.
Through the ten songs on “Painkillers” one hears plenty of Evans’ dirty, electric slide guitar and gravelly vocals, Beck’s mighty percussion, and Leg’s prowess on the keys and soulful vocals as coarse as P12 sandpaper and deep as a natural chasm. And Jim Diamond’s bass playing and guitar solo and Harmonica Shah’s wicked harp add quite a bit.
Get your copy of “Painkillers” by Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg directly from the Alive Records website. Or get one at one of Left Lane Cruiser’s upcoming shows. And enjoy!