Popa Chubby – The Fight is On

January 01, 1970

(Blind Pig)




Popa Chubby knows only one way to approach music and life:
full on and loud. He calls his latest CD — The
Fight is On —
his tribute to classic rock. And it is loud and fast and
might just be the first album ever from a blues artist with a live cover of a
Motorhead song.


When Popa Chubby, born originally Ted Horowitz, hit the New
York scene in the early 1990’s, he was the subject of much debate in what passed
back then for the New York blues community, which at that time was centered
around a East Side bar – now long gone and still lamented – called Manny’s Car
Wash. And the debate was whether the big man with the bald head, dark shades
and loud guitar could be considered a blues artist, since his sound was so “hard
rock.” Popa wasn’t the type to lead the crowd in a ten minute sing along on the
three billionth cover of “Sweet Home Chicago.” Popa rocked and wasn’t afraid to
do it, even it drove the blues purists into a snit.


Over the years, Popa has not been afraid to follow his muse
and tackle controversy, from attacking Rudy Giuliani in song to writing one of
the first post 9/11 songs-the terrific “Somebody Let the Devil Out”-to opposing
the Iraq War in its early days when that was still an unpopular stance to recording
a double CD of nothing but Hendrix covers.


And through it all, he is known for his hard rocking,
screaming guitar sound. But often, he will write a song that is so perfect it
makes you keep hitting the replay button. On The Fight is On that comes on a song called “Wicket Wanda.” This
scratchy guitar driven rocker would have been a classic if done by the Rolling
Stones in the early 1980’s. It is a song about a night of fun that suddenly
goes wrong when the singer picks up the wrong girl. Popa sings/growls/raps:
“But the fool I was it didn’t matter none until she slipped out the room, came
back with a gun. She said, ‘I know your type: three kids and a wife. Now if
you’re smart you’ll want to save your life. Because some girls are sweet. Some
girls are gay. I’m the kind of girl that’s going to blow you away.'” Whoa!


When listening to “The Fight is On” or “Rock and Roll is My
Religion” you could be hearing echoes of Zeppelin or even Kiss from the 1970’s.
On “We Got Some Rocking to Do,” Popa sings the anthem of being a teenage boy in
1975, “Gonna smoke and drink ‘til I just can’t see. I’m gonna find a pretty
woman want to pleasure me. You can stick the Moral Majority. I’ll be hanging
with the immoral minority.” Then he perfectly follows this song with “Another
Tens Years Gone” where nostalgia gives way to the reality of life. And Popa
marks here every decade of his 50 years on earth by the death of another blues
great from Jimi to John Lennon (who, again might be debatable as a blues
artist) to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Willie Dixon. And the slow song even ends with
a gentle “Layla” vibe and the defiant promise to keep doing the blues for
another 50 years.


Debating whether or not Popa Chubby is an authentic blues
artist missed the point 20 years ago and misses the point today. He produces
consistently interesting albums of which The
Fight is On
is the latest example. And few sound better if you want to just
turn the volume up and party. Hard rock came out of the blues and everybody
from Jimmy Page to Stevie Ray understood that perfectly well and nobody
questions their blues creds. “I love it when you call me Big Papa,” he sings on
“Wicked Wanda.” And don’t worry. We always will.


Standout Tracks: “Wicked
Wanda” “Rock and Roll Is My Religion” “The Fight Is On” “Another Ten Years Gone” TOM CALLAHAN 





Leave a Reply