Get this crazy baby off my head!


Tommy Castro

Tommy Castro - Soul Shaker - 2005 - Blind Pig

Tommy Castro's return to Blind Pig Records features some of his strongest songwriting yet, and there's plenty of reasons to celebrate Soul Shaker, a dozen new songs that have a distinctive Memphis or New Orleans feel to them. "What You Gonna Do Now" and "Just Like Me" lean toward the Stax sound, while "The Next Right Thing" and "Big Love" remind me of some pretty funky Crescent City blues. Jim Pugh's Hammond B-3 and piano fill out the band's sound nicely, and Roy Rogers contributes some stinging slide guitar on the funky title cut. The New Dimensons add background vocals courtesy of labelmate (and GRAMMY nominee) Renee Austin, Russell Branch, Curtis Fullard, and Marcus Walker. When was when was the last time you heard a flute on a blues record? Keith Crossnan sets his sax aside and delves into some ethereal jazz flute on "The Crossanova," adding to the musical diversity of Soul Shaker. There may not be enough surprises on Soul Shaker for some blues fans, but I keep coming back to Tommy Castro and his band for no-nonsense bar-band blues of the highest order. On Soul Shaker, Tommy Castro, Keith Crossnan, bassist Randy McDonald and drummer Chris Sandovall, deliver a strong set of what I've come to expect from this band. © 2005 Eric Steiner http://www.cosmik.com/aa-marchapril05/reviews/review_tommy_castro.html

San Francisco's Tommy Castro doesn't play blues so much as a brand of hard, soulful rock with a blues inflection, not unlike the J. Geils Band in the early 1980s, say, or Bob Seger (Castro's voice bears a strong resemblance to Seger's), all with a little bit of the old Stax groove tossed in for good measure. Soul Shaker reunites him with his old label, Blind Pig, and while there is nothing startling or innovative here, Castro and his band churn out a kind of meat-and-potatoes rock that is increasingly becoming an endangered species, probably not seen in these parts since Seger decided to stop making albums. While Castro is perfectly capable taking a Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar turn on the Strat, it is his vocals that give his material its real punch, and here he turns in some very credible singing performances on the Memphis-style ballad "Anytime Soon," "The Holdin' On" (which Wilson Pickett should cover immediately), the funky "Big Love," and the title track, "Soul Shaker," which features a guest spot by slide guitar ace Roy Rogers. One of the most striking tracks is "Let's Give Love a Try," which rocks wonderfully in a no-frills, bar band groove, and it really does sound like a great, lost Bob Seger single. Another highlight is the flute-led and jazzy "The Crossanova," which shows that Castro and his band have more than a couple cards up their sleeves. In the end, Soul Shaker is a solid party album, one that breaks no new ground, but sometimes that's just fine. © Steve Leggett © 2012 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/soul-shaker-r726888/review

"Soul Shaker" has received criticism for it's "weak songs" and lack of Tommy's Strat solos. It depends what you are looking for. This is not an album of blazing Telecasters. The album is full of great songs in the Soul/Blues Rock vein, concentrates more on lyrics and vocals, and is one of Tommy's better albums. If you prefer a stronger demonstration of Tommy's brilliant guitar technique, give his "Gratitude" album a listen, and buy "The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue: Live!" album which features Tommy and a host of other world class musicians [Tracks @ 224-320 Kbps: File size = 97.1 Mb]


1 Just Like Me - Bowe, Castro 4:14
2 Let's Give Love a Try - Castro, Gunn, Walker 3:44
3 Anytime Soon - Castro, Silbar 4:27
4 What You Gonna' Do Now? - Castro, McClinton, Nicholson 4:30
5 The Next Right Thing - Bowe, Castro, Pugh 4:52
6 Soul Shaker - Castro, Nicholson 3:54
7 No One Left to Lie To - Bowe, Castro 3:50
8 Wake Up Call - Castro, Silbar 4:16
9 The Holdin' On - Bowe, Castro 4:43
10 Take Me Off the Road - Castro, McDonald 3:53
11 The Crossanova - Castro, Crossan 2:41
12 Big Love - Castro 3:33


Tommy Castro - Guitar, Vocals [Tommy Castro Band]
Steve Spirn - Guitar
Kevin Bowe - Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Bass, Drum Loop, Background Vocals on "Big Love"
Roy Rogers - Slide Guitar on "Soul Shaker"
Randy McDonald - Bass, Background Vocals [Tommy Castro Band]
Jim Pugh - Hammond Organ, Piano, Background Vocal Production
Chris Sandoval - Drums, Percussion [Tommy Castro Band]
Bryan Hanna - Percussion
Armando Morales - Conga
Keith Crossan - Saxophone, Flute, Horn Arrangements [Tommy Castro Band]
Tom Poole - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Horn Arrangements on "Just Like Me"
Roy Tyler - Vocal Arranger [The New Directions]
Marcus Walker - 1st Tenor [The New Directions]
Curtis Fullard - 2nd Tenor [The New Directions]
Russell Branch - Baritone [The New Directions]
Reneé Austin - Background Vocals on "Let's Give Love a Try" [The New Directions]


According to all the press and hype and hoopla for a time during the 1990s, Tommy Castro was pegged as the next big star of the blues. Long a favorite among Bay Area music fans, Castro -- in the space of two album releases -- took his music around the world and back again with a sheaf of praise from critics and old-time blues musicians alike. His music was a combination of soul-inflected rockers with the occasional slow blues or shuffle thrown into the mix to keep it honest. His vocals were laid-back and always a hair behind the beat, while his scorching guitar tone was Stevie Ray Stratocaster-approved. Crossover success did not seem out of the question. Born and raised in San Jose, California, Castro started playing guitar at the tender age of ten. Initially inspired by Mike Bloomfield, Eric Clapton, and Elvin Bishop, he started the inevitable journey into the roots of his heroes and discovered and quickly became enamored of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Freddie King. His vocal styling came from constant listening to Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, and Otis Redding. After playing with numerous Bay Area groups honing his chops, he landed a gig playing guitar for the San Francisco band the Dynatones, who were then signed to Warner Bros. The two-year stint augured well for Castro, playing to the biggest crowds he had seen up to that point and backing artists as diverse as Carla Thomas and Albert King. Returning to San Francisco, Castro formed his own group and in 1993 released his first self-produced album, No Foolin', on the dime-sized Saloon label. That same year also saw him winning the Bay Area Music Award for Best Club Band, an honor he duplicated the following year. In 1997, he won Bammies for Outstanding Blues Musician and for Outstanding Blues Album for his debut release on Blind Pig Records, Exception to the Rule. Also in 1997, Castro and his band began a three-year stint working as the house band on NBC's Comedy Showcase, which aired after Saturday Night Live. Live at the Fillmore was released in early 2000, and with everyone from industry insiders to B.B. King singing his praises, Castro appeared to be headed for bigger and better things. It was not to be, however, as in 2001 he left Blind Pig Records and recorded Guilty of Love for the small 33rd Street label. Blind Pig closed the books on their association with Castro in 2002 by releasing the career retrospective The Essential Tommy Castro. Gratitude appeared from Heart and Soul in 2003, followed by Triple Trouble (with Jimmy Hall and Lloyd Jones) later that same year from Telarc. In 2005 Castro returned to the Blind Pig label for the release of Soul Shaker, followed by Painkiller in 2007. The relatively smooth and polished Hard Believer appeared from Alligator Records in 2009, followed in 2011 by The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue: Live!, a collection of highlights from Castro's recent live performances, also on Alligator Records. © Cub Koda © 2012 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tommy-castro-p63212/biography


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w is aoofc

Anonymous said...

Love Tommy's music, luv him live!

A.O.O.F.C said...