Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh Well

The Mystix, Blue Mor-
ning, Mystix Eyes Records

This is bluesy soul at its fin-
est and least pretentious.
--Hal Horowitz on the Mystix

Mystix frontman Jo Lily is the kind of raspy-voiced vocalist who sounds like he started smoking cigarettes and mainlining bourbon as a toddler. I mean, you wouldn't mistake him for Tom Waits, but he could be Tom's long-lost Boston cousin [that's Peter Green to the right].

When a group combines rock, R&B, blues, and country, they risk coming off like just another bar band. On their follow-up to Satisfy You, this Beantown quintet succeeds in dodging that particular bullet—not as handily as Waits and crew, but close enough.

Granted, "the kids" aren't
likely to dig Blue Morning, but I doubt the Mystix are losing any sleep over their lack of youth appeal. And by kids, I don't just mean young'uns, but listeners of all ages who only gravitate towards the newest, hippest, most cutting-edge sounds.

That said, the record does include a couple of covers. I didn't realize they weren't originals until I checked the liner notes, which is always a good sign. They're Jimmy Reed's "I'm a Love You" and "Rattled," which credits Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty—Traveling Wilburys alert! Clearly, catering to the hipster crowd isn't their primary objective.

The outfit is rounded out by Bobby Keyes (guitar), Marty Richards (drums), Marty Ballou (bass), and Tom West (keyboards). Lily, who doubles on slide, conjures up Duane Allman on "Yolanda," specifically "One Way Out"—my favorite Allman Brothers performance next to "Midnight Rider." Separately, the musicians have played with Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben E. King, Duke Robillard, and John Hammond. These guys have paid their dues. And it shows.

Endnote: "One Way Out" is actually a cover, but the Allmans really made it their own. You know, if I had any cool cred, I'm sure I just squandered it by acknowledging a soft spot for that band. To quote Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac: "Oh Well"...a song that used to both frighten and enthrall me when I was in junior high (Richie Unterberger uses words like "tense," "grave," and "portentous" to describe it). For more information about the Mystix, please see their official website. Green image from the All Music Guide.

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