Method to My Madness

Method to My Madness

by Tommy Castro & the PainkillersTommy Castro & the Painkillers

CD

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Overview

On 2014's The Devil You Know, California bluesman Tommy Castro pared his band back to a quartet called the Painkillers and returned his guitar playing and singing to the forefront of his attack. Though the album was chock-full of guest stars, its arrangements were largely uncluttered -- no horns, strings, or other gimmickry. Method to My Madness strips back the veneer even further. The tightrope of energy, grit, and inspiration on display in these 12 tunes -- ten originals and two excellent covers -- are usually reserved for live shows. For the first time, Castro has produced an album by himself. Recorded at Ari Rios' Laughing Tiger Studio in San Francisco, he and the Painkillers -- bassist Randy McDonald, keyboardist Michael Emerson, and drummer Bowen Brown -- cut the music live from the floor with minimal overdubs. Much has been made of Castro's vocal style being influenced by the singers from the vintage Stax/Volt era. While that's somewhat true, Method to My Madness reveals, perhaps for the first time, an even deeper debt to funky soul and country-blues singer Delbert McClinton. "Common Ground" is a swaggering gospel-tinged soul blues. The melody and choral refrain nod at Sly Stone, but Castro lets his McClinton flag fly with a gritty delivery atop a cracking snare and driving Wurlitzer groove. "Shine a Light" is dirtier; it's a razor-wire, rocking soul-blues with double-timed drumming, bumping bassline, and killer slide guitar and B-3 work, with great backing vocals from Rios and Amber Morris adding gospel fuel to the fire. The title track is a wrangling guitar-driven boogie, where funky rock meets the 12-bar blues head on. Castro testifies in his delivery, leaving no room for doubt about his intentions and attitude. While "Lose Lose" is a simmering "Stormy Monday"-esque deep blues, its proceeding tune, "Died and Gone to Heaven," is a swelling, souled-out, rousing, gospel-tinged love song. Both tracks offer excellent guitar breaks. "Got a Lot" is a rave-up, hard-grooving house rocker. Clarence Carter's "I'm Qualified" is thoroughly reinvented via stomping, hard, bluesy funk and it works as well -- if not better -- than the band's live rendition. On the cover of B.B. King's standard "Bad Luck," Castro pays warm tribute to the giant, and lets his biting guitar lead the attack, pushing his vocal and the band in the process. It's a hell of a send-off to the late bluesman, and it closes Method to My Madness on a high point -- one of many on one of Castro's finest recordings.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/23/2015
Label: Alligator Records
UPC: 0014551496724
catalogNumber: 4967
Rank: 7105

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tommy Castro & the Painkillers   Primary Artist
Bowen Brown   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals
Tommy Castro   Guitar,Vocals
Randy McDonald   Bass,Background Vocals
Ari Rios   Percussion,Background Vocals
Mike Emerson   Keyboards
Amber Morris   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Joe Louis Walker   Composer
Bowen Brown   Producer
Tommy Castro   Composer,Producer
Rick Estrin   Composer
Rick Hall   Composer
Bruce Iglauer   Producer,Executive Producer
B.B. King   Composer
Quin Ivy   Composer
Kevin Bowe   Composer
Randy McDonald   Composer,Producer
Ari Rios   Producer,Engineer
Jules Bihari   Composer
Ron Alan Cohen   Composer
Craig "Scrojo" Haskell   Cover Design

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