Reviews of Rock n Roll City:
What some critics are saying about EDDY "THE CHIEF" CLEARWATER's ROCK 'N' ROLL CITY featuring Los Straitjackets:
"With a frontman who wears a Native American headdress and a band that performs in Mexican wrestling masks, this collaboration between Chicago bluesman Clearwater and vintage rockers Los Straitjackets needs a video component for full effect. The set list includes Fats Domino's 'Let the Four Winds Blow', Lefty Frizzell's 'You're Humbuggin' Me' and 11 originals filled with ding-dong daddies, honking saxophones and all the tremolo you could want."
- USA Today / Brian Mansfield
"a Chicago bluesman with a mean Chuck Berry streak and a fondness for feathered headdresses. Not to be missed."
- New Yorker
"Sometimes two heads are definitely better than one. This collaboration between bluesman Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater and the roots rocking Los Straitjackets taps the best of both worlds. Much like the collaboration between the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and R.L. Burnside a few years back, which anchored and gave direction the JSBB, Clearwater gives the record focus...while Los Straightjackets (and some "Amigos de Nashville") supply tough, rock-solid backing."
- Graffiti/Michael Lipton
"Pairing blues guitarist Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater (known for performing in an Indian headdress) with Mexican-wrestlng-mask-sporting surf rockers Los Straitjackets makes as much sense musically as aesthetically...the album checks all that was cool about the Eisenhower years and in doing so reminds the listener that rock 'n' roll is a mutifarious medium, encompassing rockabilly, surf, country, blues and soul...intoxicating."
- CMJ New Music Monthly / Randy Harward
"What do you get when you partner a headdress-wearing blues shouter with America”s finest masked rhythm section? Thirteen songs that jump and groove in all the right places."
"Clearwater's blues licks blend seamlessly with the garage/surf rock of the Straitjackets to make one of the liveliest blues records of the year, recalling the best of the 50's and 60's Chess of Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, the great soul rhythm sections of Booker T. era Stax, and hints of the Ventures. Rock 'n' Roll City is a joy from start to finish."
- An Honest Tune/Chase Farmer
"Clearwater churns through surf, "50s-style instrumentals, a dash of rockabilly, a dab of doo-wop, a dollop of country and a healthy dose of the Chuck Berry rockers he”s always included in his set...co-headliners Los Straitjackets...support Clearwater perfectly. They slide effortlessly among his changing musical moods, creating a joyous, colorful album."
- Blues Revue/Hal Horowitz
"Clearwater's inner rocker gets shocked out of his skin by his backing group here, Mexican wrestling-mask-wearing surf-guitar group Los Straitjackets. With their expert support "Before This Song Is Over" comes off like a classic :50s boy-girl ballad; "Lonesome Town" walks the line between Duane Eddy and Buddy Guy; and the uptempo numbers "Ding Dong Daddy" and "Old Time Rocker" sound like lost refugees from Sun Studios..."
- Boston Phoenix/Ted Drozdowski
"'The Chief' meets the inspired instrumental lunacy of Los Straitjackets for a trip to that rollicking crossroads where the blues and rock collide."
- GuitarOne/Dave Rubin
"Rock "n" Roll City ranks among the best albums that Clearwater has cut in his long career."
- Living Blues/Jim DeKoster
"What do you get when you cross a blues guitarist known to hit the stage in a Native American headdress with four surf-rock superheroes in Mexican wrestling masks? A jumpin' little record called 'Rock 'n' Roll City'."
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Ed Masley
"Can a flamboyant Chicago bluesman with a penchant for Native American headdresses find musical happiness with a twangy Tennessee combo that favors surf instrumentals and Mexican wresting masks? This unlikely collaboration triumphs...finding its common denominator on the retro jukebox and roadhouse dance floor... the soulful-singing, guitar-stinging Clearwater settles naturally into the grooves laid by these masters of reverb and rhythm."
- Amazon.com/Don McLeese
"Just as Willie Nelson is Country's perpetually vital and productive elder statesman, 68-year-old guitarist Eddy Clearwater keeps fashioning new ways to hear Rock and Blues...For his latest nugget-filled album, 'Rock 'n' Roll City', Clearwater enlists Surf/Rock deities Los Straitjackets as backing band...With Rock 'n' Roll City, Clearwater holds a seminar on making Blues/Rock fresh simply by remembering its greatness when it was a new form."
- CityBeat/Brian Baker
"I'm an old-time rocker," sings 68-year-old Chicago blues great Eddy Clearwater, "and my fun has just begun." He certainly sounds as if he's having a blast on "Rock 'n' Roll City", which teams him with Nashville surfabilly band Los Straitjackets....find common ground in vintage rock 'n' roll and R&B, connecting the dots between the reverb-laden styles of surf music and West Side Chicago blues. Boasting firsthand influences from Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, Clearwater is in excellent voice...also spotlights Clearwater's own considerable writing skills."
- Citylink/Bob Weinberg
"It sounds like a musical mismatch - a veteran blues musician paired with a band that wears Mexican wrestling masks onstage while playing surf rock. Instead, 'Rock & Roll City,' which features Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater and Los Straitjackets, is one of the best blues releases of the year."
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/Regis Behe
"...an undulating set of both original and cover versions of roadhouse rock...the Chief is the real deal, and you should just sit back and tap your toes if you're not going to get up and get out on the dance floor."
- Nashville Rage/Lucas Hendrickson
- Chicago Magazine/Kevin McKeough
"Singing and playing his Gibson with the enthusiasm of youth, the 65-year-old Clearwater has the focus and self-knowledge to transform feelings of good-natured melancholy into bent phrases that could only come from the wisest Chicago blues musicians. Clearwater has composed some dandy songs, including 'Walls of Hate'...and the enthralling slow blues 'Running Along'..."
- Frank-John Hadley/Down Beat
"Eddy Clearwater, one of the blues' finest songwriters, gives us what might be the best album of his long career in Reservation Blues...The man's room-filling voice, stout and strong, has personality to burn, and his instrumental style implies the influence of Berry (on the rockers) and Otis Rush (on the slow grinders)...Clearwater testifies with stunning soul fervor...succeeds in creating a diverse yet cohesive album...Ten out of ten."
- Jeff Calvin/Blues Revue
"Eddy Clearwater's visibility has certainly improved since signing with Bullseye, and his album projects have gained in focus and clarity since he began collaborating with producer Duke Robillard. This is Clearwater's second album with Robillard, and it may well be the most personal and most artistically successful record he has released during his long career. Seven of the 11 songs are originals, and favorites include the slow burner 'Running Along,' which features some nice Clearwater lead guitar; the uncanny groove of the title track, a mixture of T-Bone Walker cool and some distinctly Chicago riffage; and 'Walls Of Hate,' Clearwater's wise prescription for freedom. Among the tunes Clearwater has chosen to cover, Dale Hawkins' 'Susie Q' has a satisfying, funky grind to it, and the opening tune, Leipziger/Fleming's 'Winds Of Change,' sets the tone of the collection with a strong arrangement and a fairly dark lyric. 'Reservation Blues' takes the achievement of last year's 'Cool Blues Walk' one step further."
"Let's face it, there's just too much fake jive blues out there in the world, too many meaningless records by too many vacuous artists who have absolutely nothing to say. That's precisely what makes Reservation Blues stand out from the pack. Produced by Duke Robillard, this album is a testament to how fresh and exciting the real thing can sound. The Chief, known for delivering his blistering guitar solos while wearing a wild feathered headdress, offers up a tasty and diverse program of 11 classic electric blues numbers that showcase his lean guitar style and gritty vocals, including a couple of well-chosen covers and crowd-pleasing perennials like Dale Hawkins' 'Suzy Q' and Chuck Berry's 'Sweet Little Rockin' Roller.'"
- James Lien / CMJ New Music Report
"At 65 years young, Eddy 'The Chief' Clearwater is sounding better than ever, and "Reservation Blues" is arguably his best album yet. Clearwater wears a Native American headdress on stage and has even been known make a grand entrance atop a stallion when introduced at outdoor performances. (His grandma was a Cherokee.) His penchant for stagery sometimes obscures the fact that Clearwater is a fine songwriter, a dexterous southpaw guitarist, and a deep-hearted singer. What's more, his music effectively bridges the gap between Chicago blues and early rock 'n roll...surpasses anything Clearwater has recorded previously -- and that's saying something when you consider the man has been a consistent performer for 40 years.
- Ed Kopp / AllAboutJazz.com
"A half-century ago, a 15-year-old southpaw guitar prodigy named Eddie Harrington boarded a bus in Birmingham, Ala., bound for the promised land of sweet home Chicago. The name has been changed, but the desire to play the blues burns brightly for Eddy 'The Chief' Clearwater...His new album on Bullseye Blues, 'Reservation Blues,' raises the bar several notches for the hardworking bluesman."
- Jeff Johnson/Chicago Sun-Times
"Resplendent in full-length Native American headdress, this veteran southpaw blues-rocker is a showman par excellence. Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater has become more than just another colorful character from the blues bar circuit..At 65, Clearwater still generates tornado-like power surges on guitar while singing in a relaxed, admirably enunciated manner that at times recalls T-Bone Walker. And he continues to display formidable Chuck Berry chops."
- James Isaacs/Boston CitySearch
"Though Eddy Clearwater performs in a colorful, Native American-inspired headdress to celebrate his Cherokee grandmother's heritage, it is his African-American blues roots that rule when he picks up his guitar and starts to sing. One of the young players on the West Side Chicago scene of the 1950s, Clearwater recalls a plethora of players from that era on his latest release: The dark and moody "Running Along" evokes Otis Rush, "I Wouldn't Lay My Guitar Down" is right out of the Chuck Berry school, and "Find Yourself" recalls Muddy Waters. But Clearwater doesn't just pay tribute, he elevates the roots into energized branches, ensuring their health by contemporizing the blues with his pen."
- Roberta Penn/Barnes & Noble.com
"Eddy Clearwater is a Mississippi transplant who adopted electric Chicago-style blues after arriving on the city's West Side in 1950. He's been banging away ever since with a mix of his gospel roots, early rock 'n' roll and the aforementioned Chicago style pioneered by the likes of Magic Sam and Otis Rush. On "Reservation Blues," Clearwater partners with Duke Robillard and band with entertaining results... Clearwater's cover of Chuck Berry's 'Sweet Little Rock and Roller' is positively duckwalk inducing."
- Jim Reindl/AP
"A fierce, left-handed, Chicago-style blues guitarist, Eddy Clearwater is best known as an effective purveyor of hard-charging party blues...But Reservation Blues finds him stretching a bit, blending more pensive, thoughtful numbers...in with the usual bevy of stompers. The result is Clearwater's best album. Producer Duke Robillard's production manages to capture the intensity of the Chief's live show while retaining the studio's sonic sparkle, and Clearwater sings and plays this 11-song set with blues authority honed by experience. Check out the killer guitar work on I Wouldn't Lay My Guitar Down, a classic Clearwater tune that has been covered by luminaries Mike Henderson and Sleepy LaBeef...a swaggering take on Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Rock and Roller is simply resplendent."
- Peter Cooper / The Tennessean
"writing some of his best, most personal material -- songs like "Reservation Blues" and his new disc's call for peace, "Walls of Hate." What's more, Reservation Blues and his prior Bullseye CD Cool Blues Walk, are hands-down his best albums. The latter opens with such a blistering jolt of six-string dexterity that many listeners thought it was producer Robillard soloing. In fact that salvo of vibrato-stung notes belongs to Clearwater..." (Ted Drozdowski/Boston Phoenix)
"Left-hander Eddy Clearwater is a forceful six-stringer who came out of Magic Sam but forged his own path...He lays down some gritty West Side shuffles and belly-grinding slow blues that highlight his raw chops, soulful vocals, and earthy, humorous lyrics..." (Down Beat)
"Equally adept at Chuck Berry-style guitar as be is at deeper blues styles, he's a fine singer who puts on a wild, exciting show...the sort of exuberant entertainer who can turn a concert into a party."
- New York Times
"Like Berry, Clearwater has always been adept at generating the kind of excitement craved by young rock and rollers. Unlike Berry, however, Clearwater is also a master of dark, brooding blues...This wide range of sensitive expression sets him apart from almost any other blues singer in Chicago and has secured him a loyal following of many different kinds of listeners."
- Music Hound Blues,
The Essential Album Guide
"When they write the definitive history of Chicago blues, one name that will be near the top of the list will be Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater. There's no better practitioner of the tough West Side guitar sound around than the Chief...[his] live show is among the best in the business.
"songs are rife with colorful lyrics, piquant arrangements, and brashly masculine singing, and he spikes his roadhouse blues with funk rhythms and old-time rock riffs meant to keep an audience bouncing and shouting deep into the night."
- Nashville Scene
"...a passionate singer with rock and gospel influences, a blues guitarist who can hold his own with the best and a songwriter with something to say."
- Blues Access
"One of the 'Windy City's' best singer/songwriter/guitarists and all-around entertainers...[with} a 'live' show that is second-to-none."
- Real Blues
"Big ol' fat blues, as real as it gets..."
- Music Row
"With his powerful left-handed guitar playing, unique hybrid of West Side blues and relentless rockabilly, stage costumes and high energy performances, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater lives up to his reputation as one of the most versatile and colorful entertainers to have emerged from Chicago's blues scene... Chicago's premier blues showman"
- Chicago Tribune