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Bad Influence Band – Under The Influence

Badblues Records

13 tracks; 50.48 minutes

The Bad Influence Band comes from the East Coast and this is their fourth CD together. The CD was self produced and recorded in Maryland; the band wrote seven of the tracks themselves, harpist Roger Edsall contributing to six of those, with covers from a variety of sources, classic and contemporary. The band consists of Roger Edsall on harp and rhythm guitar, Michael Tash on guitar, Bob Mallardi on bass and David Thaler on drums. All four sing, with bassist Mallardi taking most of the lead vocals. Saxophones are added on one track by Tom Ruggieri, piano by Mark Stevens on two and there are two additional guitarists, John Ware and Jay Monterose on one track.

The CD opens in fine style with a slide driven Elmore James style riff, an original entitled “Man Child”. I particularly liked the opening verse and its clever lyric “She was thunder and lightning, raining on my night and day. I set out my front door, watched my baby storm away”. The band sounds totally together on this catchy starter, a fine harp solo catching our attention on top of the slide. Next up is an amusingly titled tune “Dressing Like You Don’t Dress For Me”, the theme of which is the guy’s jealousy that his girl is off out dressed up in fine style, but not to go out with him! “Hey Red” is bassist Mallardi’s song, a contrast in styles, this one being more of a swing number with excellent guitar and exciting tom-toms, evoking forties artists like Louis Jordan.

The first cover brings in a touch of Texas rocking blues with “Do As I Say”, penned by Kim Wilson and Charles Harmon Jones. Fittingly the harp leads on this really catchy tune, providing a backing which sounds at times like a Tex-Mex accordion. Definitely a stand-out cut. “Sugar Daddy Baby” is another swinger. The vocal here is particularly effective and it’s another clever lyric; “I want a sugar daddy baby, I can be a sugar daddy too”. Nice clean guitar is well supported by the horns.

Perhaps the strangest choice of cover is CCR’s “Run Through The Jungle”, not a typical blues band selection. The song is played fairly straight, the rhythm guitar providing that fat reverb sound that John Fogerty had on the original. There is some nice lead guitar picking as well on one of the longer tracks on the CD. Following that track is a contrast in every way with “Cat Fight II: PTP” (no, I don’t know what it means either). It is a short instrumental on which the two additional guitarists appear although the tune is lead off by the harp, quoting “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” before Jay Monterose’s solo. “Looking Right At Me” is lyrically related to the earlier track about dressing for effect, this time the scene is the night club where “there ain’t no doubt, when the cougars come out, the bar is full of prey”. Another catchy riff propels the song along.

There is no place to hide when you choose to cover a real blues classic like Deadric Malone’s “As The Years Go Passing By”, as we all have favorite versions of the song. However, Bad Influence do a good job on the song, the vocals effective and Michael Tash offering an excellent extended guitar feature. The final original tune is “Room 111” a shuffle lead by the harp and piano.

The final three cuts are all covers. “Mailbox Blues” is from Slim Harpo and uses the riff from “Crosscut Saw”, a song which complains about getting the ‘wrong’ mail, i.e. bills and demands, not letters from his baby back home! Gary Primich’s “Hush Your Mouth” is an insistent shuffle, with some nice jazzy guitar, fast blowing harp and strong drumming. Finally Big Walter Horton’s “Rockin’ My Boogie” is, of course, a harp feature for Roger Edsall but it also swings along well, the whole band supporting the harp well.

Overall I found this a thoroughly enjoyable CD with a good blend of interesting original tunes and well selected covers. I would imagine that this is a great band to catch live and I can recommend the CD to a wide audience as there is something for all blues fans here.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.

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