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Stealing the Devil's Guitar

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Album Review

Nothing if not prolific (this is Popa Chubby's sixth set of original material in six years), the New York City-based guitarist nonetheless scores with fresh, often inspired material on this outing, Stealing the Devil's Guitar. He has already shown he can push past the rather strict boundaries of blues-rock by gradually infusing hip-hop, Latin, Southern swamp, and even reggae influences, and continues to do so throughout 12 new songs, along with a cover of Jessie Mae Hemphill's "In This World." Chubby loves to ride a chunky riff and he serves up a tasty selection of them here. The instrumental "Kinda Dicey" is a perfect example; it's a tough, sticky, funky groove, ideal for Chubby's licks. Same with the strutting "Smuggler's Blues," a story of the titular character who is both desperate and determined, with a smoking guitar solo that mirrors its narrator's intensity to get his job done. Chubby's gutsy, talk-singing vocals go a long way to differentiate him from the pack as his ominous voice conveys the rather demonic aspects of these songs. Lucifer sandwiches the disc as he shows up on the opening "Slide Devil Man Slide" that, not surprisingly, displays the guitarist's ability to sizzle on slide guitar. The closing instrumental title track also drives on a hefty riff, this one with a touch of Spaghetti Western mixed with surf that never lets up its tension during its six-and-a-half minute playing time. On the other side of the philosophical pew is "Preacher Man," who in this case seems to be in league with the devil on a conga-driven, slinky workout that makes the preacher sound as sinister as any sinner in town. Chubby's creepy slide guitar conveys the concept even without the lyrics "drop to your knees, pay tribute to the Lord, give me all you got to give, make a contribution to the preacher man." At a hefty hour, the disc would be stronger if it dropped a few tracks, especially the vaguely misogynist "Virgil & Smokey," a story-song of two dogs on the street looking for some tail. But with tracks as effortlessly melodic as the soulful reggae of "Back in My Baby's Arms," it's easy to give Chubby a pass on some of the less compelling tunes on an album that not only ranks with his best, but shows that quantity and quality are not mutually exclusive.

Customer Reviews

Come to Popa

Saw Popa last night live on the banks of the Des Moines River. Amazing talent. When I closed my eyes, at times I could swear I was listening to SRV reincarnated!

Soul to spare

Great outing on this song driven work from New Yorks Popa Chubby. Popa Defies Genre whilst letting his guitar work weave in and out of stories ranging from Gid to the Devil. Go Popa Go

Had better chubby

Kind of disappointed. It's hard to stack up to the early stuff. Doesn't make me want to pop a chubby.


Born: New York, NY [The Bronx]

Genre: Blues

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

Born Ted Horowitz in the Bronx, New York, Popa Chubby was the son of a candy store owner. At 13, Chubby began playing drums; shortly thereafter, he discovered the music of the Rolling Stones and began playing guitar. Although he grew up in the 1970s, Chubby took his cue from artists of the '60s, including Sly & the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, among others. By the time he was in his early twenties, he enjoyed and played blues music, but also worked for a while backing punk poet Richard...
Full Bio
Stealing the Devil's Guitar, Popa Chubby
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Customer Ratings