Another garage-blues duo, except that these two punters
learnt their dirty black snake moan in the oddly un-Deltalike environs of Italy
rather than some more appropriate mudhole like Mississippi or Texas, or even
Chicago’s West Side. Pay the grumbling purists never mind, tho’, ’cause the
Black Smokers – brutal slide-guitarist/vocalist Marcello Milanese and
M80-in-a-trashcan hurricane drummer Ivano Zanotti – are possessed by the
spirit, and the tuneage they crank out on Used,
their erstwhile U.S.
debut, is every bit as gritty, fiery, and funky as any barroom blooze you’ll
funnel into yer brainpan this year.
Unlike a lot of similar stateside bands that have beat-to-hell
old Chevys parked in their musical garages, Black Smokers’ sound is pure-D
muscle car flex and high-octane hot rod, hot shit, houserockin’ blooze…kinda
like the Scissormen with Mediterranean sophistication hiding the greasy juke-joint
soul lying beneath. Used rambles
along like a rough-purring vintage ’70s Mopar meatgrinder, Milanese’s sandpaper
vox out-growling every pretender short of the Mighty Wolf himself, backing up
the trash talk with a flaming sword o’ wicked slide-guitar that runs in angular,
anarchistic tangents out of your speakers. Zanotti’s skinwork is alternately
subdued and subsonic, ranging from subtle cymbal-brushes and tom-tom-taps to
full-bore, but never boring blasts of bass drum…and lotsa cowbell.
Thus christened the latest young soul rebels, Black Smokers
crank-n-spank fifteen originals and one inspired cover tune from Used, among them the locomotive
album-opening “Hey Mama,” a lard-lubed rocker that choogles along
like a minimalist AC-DC. The identity-troubled “Bullet Proof” is a
swampy bossa-nova dancefloor fave with acid-casualty vocals, while “Cheap
Women” is the kind of Bukowski-drenched skid row barroom anthem that Tom
Waits could have written if he’d been a Mississippi
sharecropper. The band’s cover of the great Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison
Blues” is a punk-blues gem with sparks flying from the metal rails,
jumpin’-n-jiving with a rockabilly heart and steel-toed blue suede shoes.
Throughout it all, Milanese displays a stark, original
guitar tone and enough bad-ass licks to satisfy even the dimmest fans of the
instrument. Partner Zanotti provides a monster rhythmic backbone to even the sparsest
of tracks, a perfect foil to Black Smokers’ incendiary frontman. Used may or may not be embraced by the
unwashed blues-rock masses, but the Reverend will tell you up front that you’ll
be hearing more from these wiley Italians…bet on it!
Standout Tracks: “Racoon City Limits,” “Cheap
Women,” “Folsom Prison Blues” REV. KEITH A. GORDON