Music Review: Tommy Castro and the Painkillers, Stompin' Ground

Tommy Castro & the Painkillers is foot stomping good fun.
Tommy Castro & the Painkillers is foot stomping good fun.

In the 45 years since Chicago's Bruce Iglauer launched the Alligator label with a down and dirty album from Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, on a shoestring budget, time and again he's proven he has a great ear for music.

Once again his instinct is on the button with Stompin' Ground from San Jose, California's blue-eyed soul sound of Tommy Castro and the Painkillers.

This is Castro's 15th album and it clearly demonstrates a man and a band whose due-paying is well and truly paid.

There's a hint of Albert King in Castro's clean and distinctive guitar playing as the record delivers a potent mix of soul-based covers, with a tight driving back-up band.

Check out stirring versions of Elvin Bishop's Rock Bottom, Taj Mahal's Further on Up the Road, Delaney and Bonnie's Soul Shake, and Ray Charles' Sticks and Stones, all delivered with conviction and subtle touches.

Castro's originals don't play second fiddle either. We relive his blue collar background with tasty sax underlying the heart-felt lyrics in My Old Neighbourhood, while exploring the political discontent in the United States in Love Is.

Stompin' Ground is a knockout on first listen and just gets better with every play. Tommy Castro and the Painkillers have hit the green light for his many fans and it's bound to land him a few more.

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