Big Joe & the Dynaflows – You Can’t Keep a Big Man Down

Big Joe & the Dynaflows – Can’t Keep a Big Man Down (Severn Records)

Making a good blues album requires some key ingredients – you’d be amazed how many bands get it wrong.  Most start with a flashy guitarist, and that’s their first mistake.  What you need is a good singer first to drive your band.   Then, when you’re laying down tracks, it needs to sound authentic – the blues was born in the Delta and raised in Chicago, so synths and digital beats are a no no.  Lastly, it needs to have a sense of humor; even when Muddy and Lightnin’ got into a jam, they never forgot to laugh at their predicament.  Big Joe & the Dynaflows understand how important all those elements are – and they get it right on You Can’t Keep a Big Man Down.

First, there’s singer Big Joe Maher, who also plays drums – how cool is that?  He’s got a powerful, yet soulful voice and knows how to sit right down in the backbeat of a song and groove.  Then there’s Rob McNelley, one of the greatest guitar slingers around, who’s played with everyone from Delbert McClinton to Lady Antebellum.  Here he turns in some incredibly slinky lines that are oh-so tasty, not to mention his perfect guitar tone, right out of a 1950’s B.B. King record.

Then there’s the sound of the record: if it wasn’t recorded live, you coulda fooled me.  It’s got a live-as-it-happens feel to it that gives it an immediacy lacking in so many of these kind of albums.  Finally, there’s the songs.  “Property Line” talks about moving out to the country, only to end up having nosey neighbors next door – who hasn’t had that one happen?  “What the Hell Were You Thinkin’” is the kinda thing we wish we could sing to people who screwed up.  A seriously fun listen.  – Tony Peters