Yes Margaret, real blues based on The Chicago blues sound and other blues influences does exist. By golly Jay Walter and The Rectifiers actually do live up to the build up of their promo sheet. Unlike some other bands that tout themselves as playing authentic blues but put out nothing but rock songs declaring themselves as bluesmen, here’s a band from Minnesota of all places dishing out the genuine item with dedication and talent to spare. Jay Walter Wilkins and company deliver the goods. Jay is a natural on vocals and expressive on the harmonica. He wrote all the lyrics and wrote or co-wrote all the music excluding the one cover song. He has enlisted solid musicians and co-produced along with John Franken.
Throughout the music drips with authenticity without sounding like copycats. They draw from the wellspring of the blues greats that went before them while making the music sound vibrant and fresh. “Rectifier Man” ponders about the use of vintage equipment, blues men of old while working in a love sentiment. All gears click right from the get go and Jay’s splendid blues voice and harmonica playing take you to the Chicago in your head.
The easy rollin’ blues of “Hitchin’ 94 muses on hitching on I-94. “The Legend” paints a picture of a somewhat phony music “star” using a super infectious guitar riff. Jay stretches out on harp over Bruce McCabe’s “tinkling” piano and the usual guitar goodness of John Franken and Dan Schwalbe on the upbeat “Mean Hearted Woman.” The band toughens up their approach a bit on the muscular Chicago Blues of “You Saw Me See You”.
The slow blues of “Lies and Secrets” is a good change of pace. It owes much to the classic tortured blues tomes of days gone by. It’s back to more upbeat blues sounds on “Early Saturday Morning (Worky’s Song). John Schroder’s sturdy bass pattern supports the Chicago groove of “Sweet Lovely”. The hep cat jive of “Con Man” is made more enticing with the addition of boogie woogie piano and rockabillyish guitar.
The lone cover Jimmy Reed’s “Gonna Find My Baby” stays true to the master’s easy loping style. Bringing down the curtain is the swinging instrumental “On the Beam” that lets Jay’s harmonica skills shine
Jay’s voice has the spot on blues attitude to give these tunes authenticity. That carries through to his tough harp skills and his hand-picked crop of first rate musicians from the Twin Cities blues scene If you have a hankering for fresh sounding blues that owes a debt to the masters, you just can’t go wrong here.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. bluesblastmagazine.com
Note – this review has been translated from Dutch
The Rectifiers are a band from Andover, Minnesota and the backing band of natural talent Jay Walter Wilkins. JW sings, blows the harmonica, writes (often together with John Franken) the lyrics and is (co-) producer. They bring the “real”, authentic blues, as it has been blowing through Windy City, Chicago for years.
The fact that JW and Franken are the heart of the Rectifiers is already clear from the introduction. But for a new album you need more. For his new project JW collaborated with Jeremy Johnson (recording, mix), John Schroder (bass, mastering), Chris Johnson (bass), Victor Span (drums), Dan Schwalbe (guitar), Bruce McCabe (piano, organ) & Last but not least, John Franken (guitar, co-writer & producer). JW (except for a Jimmy Reed cover) wrote the songs himself and some together with Franken
‘Rectification!’ gets off to an easy-going, relaxed start with “Rectifier Man” . The song immediately shows how a true bluesman should sing, groove JW’s harmonica and play these musicians from the Twin Cities (the twin cities of Minneapolis & Saint Paul) in an oiled way. For “Hitchin ’94” we have to gear up and onto the highway, one of 70 US interstates, the I-94. In “The Legend” JW profiles a music legend – a legend, in his own mind – who is not one. His “Mean Hearted Woman” then rolls out of the speakers with a lot of McCabe piano. Jay’s harmonica interventions and those of the guitars of Franken and Dan Schwalbe further remedy the nasty ailment here. The Chicago shuffle“You Saw Me See You” is one with balls and “Lies and Secrets” is the first necessary quiet intermezzo. JW and his Rectifiers take the time to heal the pain. Everything is back on (the old) track again on Early Saturday Morning (Worky’s Song) . In “Sweet Lovely” it is the infectious bass line John Schroder that energizes you and for “Con Man” – with excellent boogie woogie piano and growling guitars – a rockabilly barrel is tapped. Then it’s time for the Jimmy Reed cover from 1958, “Gonna Find My Baby” , which is finished with true respect for the blues master. The door closes after the swinging “On the Beam”. It is the only (somewhat short) instrumental, in which the whole gang, but especially JW, is allowed to burn once more – literally and figuratively.
Some have it, others just not. Jay Walter Wilkins is a bluesman pur sang, who has the blues and needs no frills. On his new album with The Rectifiers, ‘Rectifications!’ does the Chicago blues sound like it should really sound.
Eric Schuurmans – rootstime.be
“Wilkins has a very fine voice and adds to the buoyant atmosphere with his steady smile. Get out and see this band soon – they are a pile of fun!”
Ann Wickstrom – BluesOnStage live review at The Landin
“The Rectifiers draw material from the Chicago masters but also look to the early melding of gospel, rock-a-billy, blues, and country that can be found in the early Sun and Excello recordings. The personnel behind Jay’s harp varies, but the lineup is guaranteed to be top notch.”
Minnesota Blues Society webpage article
Blues Harp Fest 2020 – postponed
Blues Harp Fest – 2008
Blues Harp Extravaganza – 2002
These events featured the top harp players in the Twin Cities.
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