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Method To My Madness

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Album Review

On 2014's The Devil You Know, California bluesman Tommy Castro pared his band back to a quartet called the Painkillers and returned his guitar playing and singing to the forefront of his attack. Though the album was chock-full of guest stars, its arrangements were largely uncluttered — no horns, strings, or other gimmickry. Method to My Madness strips back the veneer even further. The tightrope of energy, grit, and inspiration on display in these 12 tunes — ten originals and two excellent covers — are usually reserved for live shows. For the first time, Castro has produced an album by himself. Recorded at Ari Rios' Laughing Tiger Studio in San Francisco, he and the Painkillers — bassist Randy McDonald, keyboardist Michael Emerson, and drummer Bowen Brown — cut the music live from the floor with minimal overdubs. Much has been made of Castro's vocal style being influenced by the singers from the vintage Stax/Volt era. While that's somewhat true, Method to My Madness reveals, perhaps for the first time, an even deeper debt to funky soul and country-blues singer Delbert McClinton. "Common Ground" is a swaggering gospel-tinged soul blues. The melody and choral refrain nod at Sly Stone, but Castro lets his McClinton flag fly with a gritty delivery atop a cracking snare and driving Wurlitzer groove. "Shine a Light" is dirtier; it's a razor-wire, rocking soul-blues with double-timed drumming, bumping bassline, and killer slide guitar and B-3 work, with great backing vocals from Rios and Amber Morris adding gospel fuel to the fire. The title track is a wrangling guitar-driven boogie, where funky rock meets the 12-bar blues head on. Castro testifies in his delivery, leaving no room for doubt about his intentions and attitude. While "Lose Lose" is a simmering "Stormy Monday"-esque deep blues, its proceeding tune, "Died and Gone to Heaven," is a swelling, souled-out, rousing, gospel-tinged love song. Both tracks offer excellent guitar breaks. "Got a Lot" is a rave-up, hard-grooving house rocker. Clarence Carter's "I'm Qualified" is thoroughly reinvented via stomping, hard, bluesy funk and it works as well — if not better — than the band's live rendition. On the cover of B.B. King's standard "Bad Luck," Castro pays warm tribute to the giant, and lets his biting guitar lead the attack, pushing his vocal and the band in the process. It's a hell of a send-off to the late bluesman, and it closes Method to My Madness on a high point — one of many on one of Castro's finest recordings.

Customer Reviews

TC Never Disappoints!

Great Music & an even better LIVE Performance!! Tommy Castro is such a joy to watch and listen to….while I miss the horns from the old days, he never disappoints and just keeps getting better and better!! This album proves it. If you get a chance to see him Live, DO IT!!

Great blues !

Great live and this is a good c d. Glad I bought it!!

Tommy Castro =‘Method to My Madness

Do Tommy Castro and the Painkillers ever rest? Apparently not, since their latest CD release, ‘A Method to My Madness’ comes quickly on the heels of their last CD ‘The Devil You Know’. However, this CD release feels more stripped down , more soulful, more back to blues but with updated and current musical themes.
The opening cut, ‘Common Ground’ sets a solid tone for the rest of the release with the band firing on all cylinders’ emphasizing powerful and enthusiastic vocals backed by a very solid rhythm section keeping a groove that demands a tapping foot or dancing on the floor.
‘I Must Have Died’ is a lovely slow blues number, while ’Two Hearts’, a medium tempo shuffle confirms the desired commonality of people expressed in the opening number, ‘Common Ground’.
I find that many of the numbers coming from Blues artists today reflect what is happening in our society today. This CD is just as updated in its themes revealing the stress, the isolation of the individual and the way the government does or does not serve its constituents and the need for people to come together. ‘All About the Cash’ is a perfect example of this, a strong tune and probably one of my favorites on this release. Great lyrics, searing guitar work and a strong and supportive rhythm section. Tommy Castro’s “A Method to My Madness’, a 12 song, 50 minute CD continues his record of solid releases .

Biography

Born: 1955 in San Jose, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

According to all the press and hype and hoopla for a time during the 1990s, Tommy Castro was pegged as the next big star of the blues. Long a favorite among Bay Area music fans, Castro -- in the space of two album releases -- took his music around the world and back again with a sheaf of praise from critics and old-time blues musicians alike. His music was a combination of soul-inflected rockers with the occasional slow blues or shuffle thrown into the mix to keep it honest. His vocals were laid-back...
Full Bio
Method To My Madness, Tommy Castro
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