Nick Moss – Privileged

January 01, 1970

(Blue Bella)


Nick Moss and his band, The Flip Tops, have made a name for
themselves over the years as a traditional Chicago blues band. But Moss’s new CD #Privileged# is a topical record that
marks a departure from the typical Moss blues album. While still firmly
anchored in the electric blues, Moss pays musical tribute here to the blues
rock sound of the late 1960’s.


First as a bass player and then as a band leader, Moss
worked his way up the Chicago
scene. He was first hired by Chicago
bluesman Jimmy Dawkins to tour with him. From there he moved into the band of
Muddy Water’s alumnus, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith: the Legendary Blues Band. His
big break came when he spent three years playing alongside a true Chicago legend, guitarist
Jimmy Rogers. Rogers
said of Moss, “Nick just got it in him…The blues feeling ain’t nothing you can
teach somebody. He just got the feeling.”


#Privileged# is
his eight album and he still has the feeling, as shown on cover songs of
Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson. Moss and the Flip Tops can still churn
out fast paced Chicago
shuffles. But the album also contains a faithful cover of Cream’s “Politician.”
And you can hear the hard driving ZZ Top influence on a Moss composition called
“Why Should I Care.”


The latter song and the cover art illustrate the political
and topical nature of the CD. The cover shows a colorized version of a famous
Lewis W. Hine photo of a man sleeping on the street during the Great
Depression. The back cover art shows a colorized photo of a bread line besides
the Brooklyn Bridge. These are stunning photos
because they make us see a tragic part of our history in a new way. On “Why
Should I Care” Moss sings, “Ones that have don’t care about the ones that
don’t…And the Ones that don’t, they keep sinkin’ low…Woke up this morning, all
I had was gone. Woke up this morning all I had was gone. Nothin’ to keep me,
I’ll leave this empty home.” You can’t get more blues than that. From Muddy
Waters escaping Stovall Plantation to the foreclosed Americans of 2010, it’s a
straight musical line.


And one of the more interesting covers on the album is Stephen
Stills’ famous song of protest, “For What It’s Worth,” with its opening lines,
“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” I remember
talking to Tab Benoit when he used the same song to protest the destruction of New Orleans and the
wetlands. But Moss presents the song with a funky, almost reggae, beat. And the
classic is not only refreshed but makes you recall that some of the greatest
protest songs in modern music were written by Bob Marley.


Moss is right on with this release. For as Katrina and a
slow government response destroyed part of a city, millions have been pushed to
the brink and economically destroyed in this so called “Great Recession.” And
we have yet to see the giants of Wall Street held accountable. On the powerful
and angry “Privileged at Birth” Moss sings, “Hey Brooks Brothers in your big
Escalade. Made all your money on an inside trade…Did you steal your
fortune…from somebody you burned? Any way you look at it, you were privileged
at birth…How can you sleep? Can you sleep at night?”


If the news media doesn’t ask these questions then artists
have to and blues artists have been speaking truth to power since this music of
the “outsiders” was born. Nick Moss keeps that tradition alive here while
moving his music in new directions. This is a solid CD.


Standout Tracks: “Privileged
at Birth” “Louise” “Why Should I Care” “For What It‘s Worth” TOM CALLAHAN 






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