The Blackfoot Gypsies Ooze Rock and Roll Swagger On ‘To The Top’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Disenchanted rock n’ rollers desperately craving a reaffirmation of faith in contemporary music needn’t look any further than the Blackfoot Gypsies newest release from Plowboy Records, To The Top. Cram-jammed with the Gypsies’ signature amalgamation of raucous, British invasion blues, classic Americana rock, and Nashville swagger – all played with the reckless abandonment of proto-punk groups like the Stooges and the New York Dolls – the fifteen track LP is enough to satiate even the most forlorn of souls.

“Potatoes and Whisky”, one of the few acoustic guitar based cuts is easily the catchiest number and an obvious choice for first single. A cosmic country-rock concoction in the vein of the Flying Burrito Brothers or Commander Cody, the track features honky tonkin’ pedal steel guitar work and acoustic piano while its singable, self-loathing lyrics are bolstered by backup vocals from outlaw country angel, Margo Price. One listen and you’re liable to be humming the tune under your breathe the remainder of the day.

However, tracks like “I’m So Blue”, “I Wanna Be Famous”, and “Why Should I Try” more accurately encapsulate the stripped-down electric sound that pervades throughout the record. “I’m So Blue” kicks things off with a simple but effective, Sonics-inspired riff as the core foursome of Gypsies, comprised of drums, bass, guitar and harmonica, relentlessly pound away in messy garage rock bliss until the whole thing seems ready to come apart at the seams. “I Wanna Be Famous” also features some heavy-handed MC5-esque riffing and guitarist and singer Matthew Paige’s varied vocal stylings seem to take on a similar high nasally howl as that of fellow Nashville rock brethren Ron Gallo. To The Top closes with the buzzy blues guitar droning of “Why Should I Try”, bringing to mind classic rock acts like Canned Heat and Tom Petty.

The Blackfoot Gypsies may borrow from many bands and genres but at least they aren’t afraid to show it. Matthew Paige’s vocals, which continuously drifted into the realm of Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde, leave no doubt about it with “Woman Woman”, a bluesier reworking of Dylan’s “The Man in Me” and the most chilled-out, grooving song on the album.  Paige cleverly rearranged the original chorus from “It takes a woman like you, to get through to the man in me” to “A woman like you needs a man, it just ain’t me”, completely changing the meaning of the song and demonstrating how to take someone else’s material and make it your own. All told, the Blackfoot Gypsies are the rock and roll band we all need right now.

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