The spine of this CD has printed on it Country Blues – Rag Time – Viper Jazz and Woody Pines latest album pretty much does what it says on the cover. Pines honed his act initially as a street performer often in the company of Gil Landry and he has a sneaking affection for veteran folkies such as Baby Gramps and Peter Stampfel, guys who injected a healthy dose of sixties freakdom into folk music. He’s got a healthy run of albums under his belt including Counting Alligators which Blabber’n’Smoke reviewed here while his EP You Gotta Roll (reviewed here) is a regular favourite in the hacienda. Comparisons abound with that other arbiter of old time American music, Pokey LaFarge but Pines is altogether more laid back although it’s true that they drink from the same trough.
This latest self titled album is Pines’ best effort so far, a no frills collection of songs that are redolent of pre war hillbilly music and fifties hillbilly boogie tempered with some lyrics that slyly evoke more modern times. This is evident from the start with Anything For Love, a toe tappin’ dose of western swing with Woody declaring that he’d pinch Mike Tyson’s cheek if it got his gal’s attention before he goes on to seek advice from his Miles Davis and John Coltrane records. It’s a zippy start to the album and it recalls the dapper days of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks with some hot fiddle playing from Billy Contreras. Contreras pops up again on fiddle on the Reinhart/Grappelli jive of Walking Stick but the bulk of the album is Pines along with Skip Frontz Jr on upright bass and Brad Tucker on guitar, a bare boned approach perhaps but the three of them do conjure up a fine stew.
There’s some scintillating syncopation on show here, the double bass snapping on Black Rat Swing and New Nashville Boogie while Tucker’s guitar humbucks and growls especially on the blues ridden Delta Bound. With covers of The Mississippi Sheiks’ Make It To The Woods, a skillet licking blues groove and Memphis Minnie’s Black Rat Swing Pines pays tribute to his forebears while his rendition of the old chestnut Junco Partner is an easy rolling gait with some fine country picking from Tucker. Finally Pines offers some tender moments, his sweetly delivered Little Stella Blue a breath away from Satisfied and Tickled Too but a beautiful moment. He closes the album with his salute to one of his heroes on Worth The Game, a Dylan like piece that bridges the gap between old time, sixties revival and present time. The song goes on.