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Let us compare bluesmen. Sometime, around 1990 I think, Canadian guitarist Colin James opened his flashy blues-rock number Just Came Back to Say Good Bye with a scratchy evocation of Robert Johnson’s Stones in My Passway. His voice and slide guitar sounded compressed, as if they had been recorded by Alan Lomax on a wax cylinder. Then the band broke into a glossy horn arrangement lifted from Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love, the big drums started pounding, and the song went into radio-friendly mode. I was afraid that Gomez’s album would take the same sell-out route. It didn’t. The album opens with vocals that sound like a tomcat screeching from the inside of an aluminum garbage can that has just been tossed into a particularly polluted lake. The slide guitar alternates between piercing lead lines and manic thumping on the open strings; it sounds as if Gomez were alternating between playing lead and rhythm on the same instrument every half-second. And it keeps on in that vein, doing the unrelenting one-chord boogie in true John Lee Hooker style. The album stays in that mode all the way through. Even though the closing number comes close to adopting the more canonized blues tropes (the 12-bar structure, the “leavin’/leavin’/seein’ rhyme scheme), Gomez never drops his monomaniacal dedication to the boogie. Big ups for consistency, but where is the variety? You can keep the boogie while tossing in the occasional slow up or slow down but Gomez is not reaching for sophistication, he is reaching for pure, unadulterated cruddy vulgarity. Here, there are no coy double entendres. Sticky Icky and Cock-a-Doodle are about cocks and vaginas doing what comes naturally. This album is populated by evil and women, evil and horny women, and teenage strippers. At least that is what I could make out through Gomez’ slurred and distorted delivery. If you missed the whisky-addled freakout blues of Canada’s David Wilcox, lurch on down to Alex Gomez’s shack and give his brand of home-brewed evil a taste. (Erik Weisengruber)


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