David Gogo Halfway to Memphis

David Gogo has reached his zenith with Halfway to Memphis. Some of his earlier releases hinted at his obvious guitar prowess, but it all comes together here as he unleashes the ferocity of his true potential. This is blistering blues-rock: there's little Memphis going on here. Halfway to Memphis, instead, takes pages from the books of Walter Trout, Coco Montoya and Smokin' Joe Kubek as he delivers a muscular, aggressive step forward with all cylinders firing. It's a sometimes strange mix of both covers (Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, James Brown, Eddie Hinton and Howlin' Wolf) and sturdy originals. One of the disc's highlights even takes a crack at Captain Beefheart's "Click Clack" to great effect, with Gogo's vocals approximating Van Vliet's gruff bark admirably while remaining loyal to the original tune. His studio band is flawless and special note goes out to Rick Hopkins for some sensational B-3 with Gerry Barnum responsible for some outlandishly inventive harp embellishments. Gogo's vocals fit the material for the most part, although soft spots show themselves on "This Is A Man's World" and Eddie Hinton's "(I Gotta) Testify." The title track and infectious "I Should Have Lied" more than compensate. The energy Gogo injects into "Rollin' and Tumblin'" via his authoritative, screaming slide guitar revitalises an old chestnut while the ten-minute blues medley that closes the album is a workout that has you wishing it would go on longer. With any luck, it will. (Cordova Bay)