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Coco Montoya - The Essential Coco Montoya

Blind Pig Records

2 tracks

The Blind Pig ”Essential” CDs are a great way to sample the wares of the cadre of artists who record for the label. In the case of musicians like Magic Slim and the Teardrops or Tommy Castro, the word “Essential” is a bit more appropriate than with Coco Montoyo since they released many prior CDs and continue to record on the label. Montoya’s first three solo releases (1995-1997) were with Blind Pig and they are collected up and sampled in this set, but none of his prior stuff with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers or any of his newer works after Blind Pig are included here. That being said and title aside, this is a nice sampler for those looking to get in synch and explore Coco’s early solo stuff on this label.

Montoyo toured with John Mayall for about ten years before going solo. In 1995 he gave us “Gotta Mind to Travel” and a plethora of stars appeared on it with Montoya, including his personal hero Albert Collins and leader of the Bluesbreakers John Mayall. It garnered 4 Handy Award nominations and made Montoya a standout in the blues world after winning the Best New Artist award. “Ya Think I’d Know Better” followed the first album up with a Jim Gaines produced album of more fiery stuff. The third album, “Just Let Go”, was also produced by Gaines and placed Montoya well on the road to individual blues stardom.

It’s all good stuff here. Montoya chose the tracks from each album to include in this CD. The silky smooth guitar work that he is famous for ripples through cuts like “Seven Desires”, “Monkey See Monkey Do” and the slow blues cut “Do What You Want to Do” and “You Don’t Love Me”. There are a lot of ballads here, giving us a nice soulful look at Montoya’s abilities. “Sending Me Angels” and Am I Losing You” are two of the really nice ballads here. Vocally we also see Montoya’s prowess; “Same Dog” and “You’d Think I’d Know Better By Now” are just two of the dozen cuts where he shines.

If you are in need of early Montoya solo stuff, then go get this CD. It’s a great showcase of his first three solo works. If you are a big Montoya fan you may already have them; if not, then I’d probably recommend you buy all three of the original CDs because his Blind Pig Stuff is pretty damn good!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

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