Blues guitar between the tracks
Reviewed December 2008
By Jimmy Thackery And The Drivers
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
In 1991, a former Nighthawks singer/guitarist released the superb album "Empty Arms Motel." With his rhythm section/band, The Drivers, that disc featured his gravel-voiced, soulful vocals and slashing blues guitar on such standards as Bo Diddley's "I Can Tell" and Hendrix's "Red House," as well as some tasty originals. Since then, Jimmy Thackery has released a dozen albums, half with the stripped-down Drivers in tow, including last year's "Solid Ice" and his new one, "Inside Tracks."
The first two cuts on the new disc show Thackery practicing a great deal of restraint. The opener, "All Because of You," is almost at a pedestrian shuffle, with guitar licks that he can probably play in his sleep. Things get going a bit on Chuck Berry's "Promised Land," the only cover, featuring lead guitar tradeoffs with Earl Cate, but the Buddy Guy influence of his earlier albums is still nowhere to be heard. "That Dog Won't Hunt" brings back more of a typical Thackery sound, a strident, edgy blues-rocker with good lyrics and great guitar breaks throughout that bring to mind the late Stevie Ray Vaughn. "Change the Rules" is a slow ballad with excellent, soaring guitar solos, but here Thackery tries to make a social/political statement, and, no Dylan, he ends up with clumsy lyrics like:
Now you're standing alone in childlike defiance
And you claim that it's all just like before
But your actions and your words are at odds with your motives
And the ones that you love aren't listening any more
On many of his discs Thackery include a surf-guitar instrumental; here it is "Landlocked," which shows he can still still blend blues and surf, though a phrase in the melody is a direct lift from "Walk Don't Run." Things get funky with "Just a Feeling," with blistering, Hendrix-inspired guitar runs laid over a charged vocal that is easily the best on the disc. "Eat It All" is a shuffle that features funny lyrics and some Vaughn-style shredding, and "Blinking of an Eye" is a ballad that lacks either a blues, rock or country identity, making for seven slow minutes. "What Part of No" comes back strong, hard rock'n'roll delivered power-trio style, complete with a showy solo. "Now What You Gonna Do" closes out matters with a rockabilly instrumental, easing back a bit with Thackery laying out some tasty country licks, sadly absent elsewhere on the disc.
Jimmy Thackery has established himself, and his versatility as a guitarist and vocalist is clear on "Inside Tracks". While keeping the focus on blues-rock, he shows his talent for other styles of music, especially funk and rockabilly. The disc takes a few songs to get moving, but once it does, it delivers the goods.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.