Sometimes it is interesting to track an artist’s success chronologically and see how they have evolved musically; however, more often either from apathy or attention deficit, many listeners will just stick with the albums that they already know and only follow the artist forward. People – do yourself a favor and do not apply this logic to Eric Sardinas, rock-blues guitarist extraordinaire. To not sample and enjoy his previous work is to deny yourself even more of the Eric Sardinas experience that simply cannot be obtained elsewhere.
Treat Me Right (featuring Paul Loranger on electric and acoustic bass and Scott Palacios on drums and percussion)was the debut album from nearly ten years back but new listeners will find nothing dated about this cd. It must be noted that Eric Sardinas’ approach to the blues is serious and rather intelligent; his musical canon is derived from some of the original greats, citing influences such as Bukka White and Robert Johnson. The liner notes for Treat Me Right show an image of Sardinas’ shirtless and quite impressive back with a tattoo which says ‘Respect Tradition,’ and when it comes to the blues, this is exactly what he does. So if you were just rolling your eyes and thinking not-another-upstart-white-boy-guitarist-makes-good – please fasten your seatbelt.
The title track, one of Sardinas’ own compositions, is a strident boogie that sets the tone for what is to follow and his vocals match the playing perfectly with a primitive, emotionally charged phrasing; in fact, I would venture to suggest that not since Robert Plant has anyone got so much mileage out of the word “Oh.” Listen up.
Write Me a Few Lines is one of my fav tracks and the perfect roadhouse blues anthem. Sardinas convinces his Dobro to respond – sometimes conversationally, sometimes in pain – depending on the song, and often at top speed. This skill is also in evidence with the John Lee Hooker-Bernard Besman My Baby’s Got Something which he nails with flawless, supernatural skill. Low Down Love is another excellent showcase for both Sardinas’ songwriting ability and his prowess as a musician.
The final track is Tired of Tryin’ and Eric is joined by Johnny Winter and the respected Hubert Sumlin, once a band member to Howlin’ Wolf. This is a fantastic, strutting blues song composed by Winter and although you can definitely hear that influence in Sardinas’ vocals, he makes it his own. I also love the hearty blues asides that are shouted back and forth on this one.
As some of you dear readers may recall, I did get the chance to see Eric Sardinas live earlier in the year and since then I have been trying to find the cd that best captures that high performance energy. This is of course a tall order and I am not sure that even this very excellent cd quite accomplishes it. Best Advice: If you have the chance to see him live, you need to go. If not, start listening to the material till you can go. (Eric’s website does offer up a tasty sampling of youtube footage – click on ‘Extra’ – including the infamous clip of him playing slide guitar with a beer bottle. Unbelievable. Check it out.) You can also hear samples at the Amazon link below.
Buy Treat Me Right from amazon.com!