Straight Up Booglaoo – The Muggs (Bellyache Records)
Here's proof that there is still life in the rockin’ Mid-West. The Muggs come from Detroit and play razor sharp, power-trio blues rock ‘n’ roll that’s grown exponentially over the course of their five albums.
It’s true that The Muggs don’t do much more than mix classic rock (Sabbath, Mountain, Humble Pie and Led Zep) with the blues but, fuck, they do it well. This is a record with bigger balls than King Kong but its heavy thwack is tempered by Fay Wray-like, melodic touches.
“Straight Up Boogaloo” opens with an urgent count-in and the driving guitar attack of “Applecart Blues” and the intensity doesn’t let up from there, even on the more measured “Fat City”, the heavy dreamin’ “Blues for Mephistopheles” or the “Get Back” Beatlesesque groove of the title tune.
There’s a pigeon pair of songs, “Roger Over and Out” (A and B versions), mid-set that will convince you, if needed, that The Muggs have musical chops to burn. If you’re still wary and need something semi-familiar to cling to, re-makes of (Pete Green-era) Fleetwood Mac (“Rattlesnake Shake”) and the Beatles (“Yer Blues”) knock it out of the park.
If rock and roll is increasingly an old man’s game it’s worth noting that The Muggs formed 15 years ago. That makes them positively prehistoric to today’s Interwebs generation who’d probably need carbon dating to get a handle on the band members’ real ages. The Muggs have survived bass player Tony DeNardo being hammered by a life-threatening stroke, a change of drummer and a brush with reality TV. You can make your own call on which of those might be the most debilitating…
Unsurprisingly given that DeNardo was paralysed on one side and needed intense physical therapy to recover, it took The Muggs five years to release their first album (“The Muggs”.) It’s tempting to say they made up for lost time. Extensive touring and rave reviews (especially in Spain, the world’s capital of rock and roll) have been the dividend for hard work. Who says rock and roll doesn’t pay?
If there are many better vocalist-guitarists playing this stuff in or around the Motor City than Danny Methric, you know our address. His withering lead-playing and rhythm work make this a great listen. Of course that would mean jack shit without solid foundations and Denardo and drummer Todd Glass are the business in the engine room.
You can get this on vinyl, CD and as a download. Let the band's merch page be your guide. Still wavering? There are reviews of the live Muggs record in haiku form here. Blue-collar rock truly has transcended the cultural barriers.