Popa Chubby ‘I’m Feelin’ Lucky’ 2CD (DixieFrog) 3/5

popa-chubbyThis new album celebrates twenty-five years of Popa Chubby as a musician and he indeed started up in 1989 as a professional, though in fact his first gigs go way back in time to 1977 when he operated in the Queens district of New York. Essentially Poppa Chubby plies his trade as a blues-rock musician and this has its plus and minus factors. At his best, he works within the tradition as on the old school R & B of ‘One leg at a time’ on which pays homage to the old masters of the 1950s. Fast forward a couple of decades and ‘I’m feelin’ lucky’ features some funky 1970s clavinet. For a more reflective side to the leader’s music, ‘Too much information’ is a sparse sounding number and a treat at that. Where Poppa Chubby sometimes falls down is on the excessive use of rock guitar on the storming blues-rock songs and, when this is toned down, he is fully capable of delivering melodic and soulful blues as illustrated on the gentle paced ‘Come to me’ with female background vocals supplied by none other than Dana Fuchs from the Royal Southern Brotherhood. His guitar playing works best on the driving opener ‘Three little words’ which in the soulful delivery on lead vocals and soaring guitar hints at the influence of Carlos Santana on Popa Chubby. A second CD of bonus songs features some of the rare and early material from his career. An extensive biography of the leader is contained in the excellent inner sleeve notes. Poppa Chubby is currently undertaking an extended continental European tour that takes in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, though no UK dates are planned.

Tim Stenhouse