When a band names itself after a ’50s Gibson amp, plays Silvertone and Harmony guitars, and devotes an entire album to Hound Dog Taylor, any self-respecting blues fan should take notice. But the New England boys’ latest effort just might be crossover without compromise.

The bass-less trio features Matt Stubbs on hollowbody Silvertone 1454 and Pat Faherty on ’52 Harmony Stratotone – great weapons for Chicago blues. But the opener, “By My Lonesome,” is wild rock and roll á la Little Richard, and the title cut includes some wah pedal.

Hearing the New Orleans groove and icepick-tone guitar of “Double Gettin’,” one would never guess that Stubbs and Faherty met at Berklee College of Music and later aimed toward lowdown, greasy blues. The set is mostly originals, with a cover of Lloyd Price’s ballad “Just Because” featuring a stinging Johnny “Guitar” Watson-esque solo. “Dry Run” is a lazy shuffle straddling blues and country, as Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo sometimes did, while “I Let Someone In” recalls Lonnie Mack’s high-speed tremolo.

GA-20 achieves the difficult task of both reaching back while moving the blues forward, and Crackdown is not some museum piece shot full of formaldehyde.

This article originally appeared in VG’s December 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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