James Mathus Knockdown Society
Stop and Let the Devil Ride
First Appeared at The Music Box, October 2003, Volume 10, #10
Written by Michael Cooney
Blues is perhaps the most accessible of all musical styles. One doesn’t require a certain level of education or social standing to understand the blues, and even more than rock ’n‘ roll, its essence is pure feeling. Everyone on the planet has felt overwhelmed by sadness or pain. Everyone alive has, at one time or another, felt so consumed with misery that they couldn’t carry on. This is the blues. Every teenager who has ever picked up a guitar has been taught at least one basic blues riff, and the chords are simple to learn. Yet, that doesn’t mean necessarily that it’s easy to really play the blues. Just about every musician has tried, but creating a truly sweet, sweaty, funky, old-blues groove is far more difficult than it may first appear.
That’s why James Mathus Knockdown Society is such a thrill. Stop and Let the Devil Ride is packed, wall-to-wall, with delectably tight blues. Produced by Mathus and mixed at Sweet Tea studios — the place after which Buddy Guy named his 2001 masterpiece — Stop and Let the Devil Ride is a dark, smoky collection of quick little tunes, all dripping with brooding atmosphere. Mathus’ guitar hums and purrs over smooth drums and bass. Dave Spencer and Luther Dickinson lend their guitars, too, as the band rocks and grinds through nearly perfect, sultry grooves straight from the dingy backroom of a juke joint. Mathus doesn’t attempt to break any new ground or make any grand musical statements, but Stop and Let the Devil Ride vividly encapsulates the smell, taste, and feel of real honest-to-goodness blues. ˝
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box