Album Review: Hot Club of Cowtown – What Makes Bob Holler
You’d think that Hot Club of Cowtown would have recorded a Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys tribute album earlier in their twelve-year history, considering that they named their band in honor of Wills (and gypsy jazz pioneer Django Reinhardt’s Hot Club of France). Luckily, What Makes Bob Holler is a covers album that’s worth the wait.
Though it would have been easy to fill a fourteen-song album with Wills’ most famous songs (and What Makes Bob Holler does have several of those tracks), Hot Club recorded a few lesser known gems as well, the best of which is an upbeat, infectious version of the call and response song “The Devil Ain’t Lazy” led by guitarist Whit Smith. Smith also leads the band on album opener “She’s Killing Me,” an irresistible boogie that features fine musicianship, especially from Jake Erwin, whose rubbery bass solo on this song is one of the album’s high points. Fiddler Elana James takes center stage on a sweet instrumental rendition of “Faded Love” and delivers a sultry version of “Keeper of My Heart” that sounds straight out of a smoky East Texas dance hall. The whole record, in fact, sounds straight out of a dance hall—the band and producer Paul Riley do an admirable job of capturing the freewheeling energy of a live performance whilst in the studio.
Ending the album with a swingin’ version of “Stay a Little Longer,” one of the greatest songs ever recorded, Hot Club of Cowtown proves that Bob Wills is still the king, and they remain his devoted subjects.
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