12 Tracks; 58 Minutes.
Bob Lanza is a guitarist and singer from northern New Jersey. Bob spent four years as bandleader for Floyd Phillips and the Mudflaps, and has backed legends like James Cotton and Nashville’s Dave Perkins. He went out on his own after Floyd Philips died in 2001 and hasn’t looked back. Inspired as a child by a Muddy Waters concert, Lanza has loved the blues ever since. His style is based around Muddy’s urban blues, but he pulls in bits and pieces from Jump blues, Texas shuffles, and a deck stacked with Kings. Lanza’s blues are an amalgamation of traditional styles that form a singular vision of 21st Century Blues.
‘Til The Pain Is Gone is the latest offering from Bob Lanza and his band. It’s a sturdy mix of covers and originals centered on his powerful voice and ripping guitar. Surprisingly, the first lead guitar licks heard on the disc are from Bob Lanza’s son Jake. Jake Lanza gets three solo spots in lead track “Maudie.” Jake’s phrasing and tone is faultless and leaves the listener wanting more. Keyboardist Ed “Doc” Wall pulls double duty on organ and piano and guest vocalist Joe Cerisano pours out his lonesome soul to Maudie. It’s a credit to Bob Lanza’s confidence in his fellow musicians to highlight so many of them in the lead track of his new album. “Maudie” sets a high standard for the rest of the disc, which it unequivocally lives up to.
“‘Til The Pain Gone” is a rollicking piano shuffle that rolls on like the train in Lanza’s lyrics. The whistling harp warns the train is coming and you better get off the tracks. This is a steam engine running at full throttle and Lanza is wailing for all he’s worth. The ending solo is frantic; stoking the fire and pouring out the pain. “Snake Byte” showcases David “Snakeman” Runyan, harp player extraordinaire in a Chicago Blues harmonica work out with clean crisp solos from Lanza and tour de force harp blowing.
The disc visits all the blues neighborhoods of Chicago from the South side stomp of “I’m Ready” and the piano driven romp of “Sugar Sweet,” to Magic Sam’s West Side on “Every Night & Every Day” and into the suburbs with “Outskirts Of Town” which is a slow burn duel with PA/NJ favorite Lee Delray. This quartet of songs reminds us of the hard scrabble Chicago environment from which they came and the rough and tumble New Jersey environment of today where Lanza and his band ply their trade. This is no-nonsense blues.
‘Til The Pain Is Gone takes the volume down a few notches with a pair of acoustic tracks before wrapping the whole thing up in strutting style with “Mojo” – aka “Got My Mojo Working.” The first of the pair is “Lonesome,” and it lives up to its name. This old Memphis Slim number is low down, back porch blues with a little honky-tonk piano added for good measure. “Our Life” is a Lanza original that mixes well with the country blues of “Lonesome.” The Snakeman puts his indelible stamp on the tune, interacting on an almost telepathic level with Lanza. David “Snakeman” Runyan is the not so secret weapon of the Bob Lanza Blues Band. He’s the perfect tangy relish for Lanza’s Jersey Ripper.
The Bob Lanza Blues Band consists of Reverend Sandy Joren on bass, Noel Sagerman on drums and David “Snakeman” Runyan on harmonica. They lay down earthy, gritty, sweaty blues for those who toil the day away barely making ends meet. This isn’t uptown blues. Lanza refers to his music as Jersey Blues and it is indeed tough, gruff, bare-fisted, and in your face. It’s honest, a little over the top, and not for the faint of heart. ‘Til the Pain Is Gone might be the exact amount of time you’re going to drink at the bar but it’s also a tremendous new CD by a veteran band just starting to get national attention. If you’re looking for the real deal this is it.
Review by Jim Kanavy