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POPA CHUBBY Stealing The Devil's Guitar
Dixie Frog DFGCD 8600 (2006)

Popa Chubby has lived as colourful a musical career as his name and image suggests. The colourful tattooed New York bruiser named one of his earlier albums 'Booty and The Beast' and was once a side kick to Richard Hell in the Punk days, and later veered towards folk music before returning to his love of the blues, albeit his own unique blend of New York City Urban blues. But beneath the bruising exterior is a story teller with an array of guitars in his hand.

The result is a curious hybrid of Rock/Blues Folk, Roots, and even Rap which like the curates egg is good in parts.

Chubby is well known on the East Coast and is huge in France where his Urban Bluesman persona struck a chord with the image conscious French. However, therein lies a slight problem, for Ted Horowitz is more of a story teller and fine guitarist than his heavy metal image sometimes allows him to be. And although this album does have a few crunching full on rockers, it is with his colourful narratives such as the impressive 'Smugglers Game' and the country tinged 'Young Guns' that he demonstrates his real forte.

Of course being Chubby there are a few obligatory rock and roll workouts such as an interesting take on Hendrix's 'Bold as Love' complete with an effective coda and of course the opening slide piece 'Slide Devil Man Slide' which employs a very strong hook. Yet it is on the more unlikely pieces such as Jessie Mae Hemphill's gospel tinged 'In This World' and the melodic guitar/vibes duet on 'Walking with a Man' that he really impresses.

He may present himself as a guitar slinging rock bruiser but Popa Chubby works from an altogether broader palate as evidenced by 'Preacher Man' which swings gently and is topped by some sumptuous slide work, delicate percussion and rapped out lyrics. The closing guitar led instrumental 'The Devil's Guitar' nicely tops and tails an album that grows in authority with repeated plays.


Review by Pete Feenstra

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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