Since I got to know the music of Tommy Castro with/without the Painkillers I wonder how I have heard so little about them up to now. The vocals and guitar playing of TC is 1st class, music both original and covers is most enjoyable.
I really liked Tommy's last studio record 2009's `Hard believer' which was rocking soul with a big brass section and for me much better than his usual straight blues material. This new record with a slimmed-down backing band, the Painkillers, is very different - much more rock blues, albeit soulful rock blues. However, the band are very good with the rhythm section of Randy McDonald and Byron Cage driving everything beautifully and James Pace on keyboards being outstanding on both organ and piano. There are lots of guests including the Holmes Brothers, Marcia Ball, Tab Benoit, Magic Dick, Joe Bonamassa, Samantha Fish and Mark Karan but Tommy is always out in front with his strong vocals and powerful guitar playing. To be honest I had trouble hearing the Holmes Brothers on "Two steps forward" but it was nice to hear Magic Dick on harp. I hadn't heard the old Savoy Brown number "I'm tired" for years then Bettye Lavette covered it recently and the song pops up here again with Mr. Bonamassa helping out. My favourite tracks were probably the opener `The devil you know" and "When I cross the Mississippi" with Tab Benoit, but there are lots of good tracks and lots of variety on the album.