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CD Review by D.M. Wells
Once known in Toronto’s Queen Street West district as “Jerry Hendrix” due to his rapid-fire guitar licks (and while Jimi's own guitar at that), this Burlington/Hamilton-based musician is now more familiar as a modern-day “Frankenstein”. Ever-grateful to a team of medical doctors, and perhaps faith in a higher power, he has completely risen from the ashes of a serious car crash (of which he was, apparently, at fault) a few years ago. He’s paid his dues in more ways than one and seems ready to “take control” of his life now.
Jerry Johnson took the bull by the horns in producing this 10-song rock-heavy/blues CD (recorded and engineered by former Saga drummer Steve Negus), accompanied by Hamilton’s award-winning drummer Jack Pedler and bassist Rob “The Bubba” Brown. Jerry also performs all guitars and lead vocals on it, with Cheryl Weston and Zoe Weston-Shepherd on background vocals on the only country-blues (albeit electrified) “When It Rains”, the CD closer.
The recording starts off with a furious instrumental guitar boogie appropriately entitled “Maniacal Fervor, Texas”. The slower-paced but still hard-driving blues, “It’s Not a Dream”, is also practically instrumental, containing only a single verse and a wistful melody. It may or not reflect the aforementioned vehicular incident.
The lyrics to the funky bass-driven title track, “Show Me Some Action”, refer to the frustrating “big talk” (lies and promises), so prevalent on the promotional side of the music industry. Even though “money talks” is the more appropriate adage than “talk is cheap”, sometimes even financial incentives can’t get past the b.s. meter.
“All the King’s Horses” is another intense instrumental, in straight-ahead rock mode, that also allows Pedler free-rein on the drumkit, on which he never fails to impress. If you like “holes” in your melodies, forget it – this is a full-on Mozart concerto for guitar – rock me, Amadeus!
“I Knew Right Away”, a finger-blistering, cut-time blues-rock shuffle with a big fat bass line, is classic Jerry Johnson, as evidenced from his historical musical identity as the founding member of Them Damned Johnsons. It’s a musically thrilling ode to romance (or maybe just lust).
“Mine” is also a slow-blues instrumental with a very pretty melody that not unlike “It’s a Dream”, but this one gives particular credence to the Hendrix-like comparisons. This one’s on an equal par with “Little Wing” in its display of musical emotion.
“Ain’t Gonna Sit and Cry” is a fusion of blues, rock, funk, and jazz, whose rhythmic pattern reminded me vaguely of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” while incorporating some interesting reverberation technique on guitar. It’s a song addressing the issue of rejection by a many-times-broken heart gone cold.
“Take Control” follows the musical funky-blues-rock pattern of “I Knew Right Away”, but it’s an appealing groove, just the same. If nothing else, Jerry’s style is consistent, so his long-time fans will dig it. There is effective use of reverberation here, too, along the lines of Vanilla Fudge’s “I’m Losing You”.
“Time to Get Wet”, even more than some of the other tracks, reminded me of music recorded by Gus Pappas and the New Breed (now of Bottle Devils), from their brilliant No Control release. This is one of my favourites on the CD, the psychedelic flavouring of which should justifiably render it “nouveau classic rock”.
As mentioned previously, “When It Rains” is a mellow electric country-blues (with a touch of gospel) that is not unlike the Stones, as well, and it’s enhanced by the lovely background vocals of the Weston women, however minimally they are used. It’s a nice little “comedown” from the musical “high” experienced throughout the disc.
Show Me Some Action does that and more.
For more info, visit www.jerryjohnson.ca.