Fuzzy guitars, Stax horn arrangements, and a raw garage sound permeate Black Joe Lewis’ third studio album, serving up a provocative juxtaposition of garage-punk, along with the ’60s R&B and blues that brought the band to prominence.
Singing like James Brown with a sore throat and Tourette’s syndrome, Lewis barks, hollers, and growls about harsh times, women, money, and white hipsters trying to act Black. Produced by Grammy winner Stuart Sikes (Modest Mouse, White Stripes, Cat Power), along with three tracks by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Explosions in the Sky, Okkervil River), Electric Slave is an edgy grunge-R&B record that breaks free of the vintage soul novelty heard on earlier recordings.
The fuzz guitar intro of “Skulldiggin” opens the record with it’s droning power chords, horn blasts, and tinges of psychedelia. Most of the record is vocally unintelligible, but it’s the energetic exuberance of the performances that hooks you. You don’t come to this party for poetic lyrics. With explicit lyrics throughout, the band is tight and talented. “Guilty,” “Come To My Party,” and “Golem” offer contagious grooves.
Electric Slave blends disparate ingredients to create a stimulating and raucous sound.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s December. ’13 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.