New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Pianist Johnny Iguana (of the Chicago
bands The Claudettes and oh my god) has toured with Otis Rush and Junior
Wells and recorded with Buddy
Guy and James
Cotton--but he's never released a blues album as a leader…'til now. His Delmark Records debut "Johnny Iguana's Chicago
Spectacular!" features a host of Chicago
greats (Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Lil' Ed and more) and pairs new spins on Chicago
classics with Johnny's soulful-yet-surreal instrumental compositions.
Johnny grew up obsessed with Otis Spann and Junior
Wells--but also with Minutemen, Erik Satie and Raymond Scott. And so here you'll find Johnny's own soulful-yet-surreal compositions as well as fresh spins on blues classics--plus a Gil Scott-Heron tune, sung here by Phillip-Michael Scales, a rising artist who happens to be B.B. King's nephew.
Visits to Sonny
Boy Williamson (featuring Billy Boy Arnold), Elmore James
(featuring Lil' Ed) and Howlin' Wolf (featuring John Primer) sit alongside the Manhattan-paced Gershwin punk of "Land of Precisely 3 Dances," the cartoonish-but-menacing "Motorhome" (in the mold of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse
") and the turbocharged New Orleans R&B of "Big Easy Women."
Those pieces, written for Johnny's band the Claudettes, are reborn here with Claudettes drummer Michael Caskey and revered bass-guitar innovator Bill "The Buddha" Dickens. The blues classics here feature no bass guitar; it's Johnny's left hand and a 100-year-old Chicago-made Cable Piano Company upright that bring the bottom to these tracks.
This is no imitation. This is no pure homage. Half a century of blues piano giants are honored here, but Iguana has made an album that lets his many loves crossbreed. And so you'll encounter ripples of punk, soul, jazz, classical…because Johnny has drunk from these waters, too. But this is a blues album.