There are few things in this world that I’m pretty picky about, but two of them just happen to be the blues and Chinese food. Typically, I try to avoid both at the same time, but the Chicago blues band Nick Moss & the Flip Tops hopped right in the buffet line with no reservations on their newest album Live at Chan’s – Combo Platter No. 2. The newest release is a follow up to the highly acclaimed 2005 album Live at Chans and promised the same great MSG-free taste.
I am a glutton for punishment, but I saddled up to the bar right away, and the opening course of "Spare Ribs and Chopsticks" filled my hunger for the blues. Nick Moss just devours the instrumental opening track. From the start, he leaves no doubt that he is the master of eating pork with tapered sticks. The 8-plus minute appetizer features Moss showcasing his enormous talent, creating emotion through his authentic Chicago blues guitar style. The secret sauce that makes this song stick to your ribs, though, is delivered by the swinging Farfisa organ playing of Wille Oshawny that leaves you swaying in the shadow of Windy City.
As soon as you take that last bite, the next course of stone Chicago blues is headed your way with "Try to Treat You Right." We get our first serving of the voice of modern day blues. If you close your eyes and listen to Moss you can almost smell the smoke in a tavern on the West Side of the city. One of the great side items on the album is the harmonica-driven "Fill ‘er Up." The song shows Moss’s great instrumental versatility. At a platter-filling 9:23, this foot stomping song gives you the energy and hunger for more fuel for your soul.
The entree portion of the meal is delivered in the final four songs and the guest appearance of Lurrie Bell, the 2008 Living Blues Artist of the Year. The blues guitar interplay between Bell and Moss on the cover of Muddy Waters classic "I’m Ready" is remarkable. For me, this is how the blues is supposed to sound. The tough time voice of Bell brings back images of the heyday of blues in Chicago during the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.
Live at Chans – Combo Platter No. 2 won’t leave you with the sodium filled Chinese food regrets the next day. The fortune of this album reads as so: “A rolling stone may gather no Moss, but he can play a hell of a blues guitar.”
Live at Chans – Combo Platter No. 2 is now out on Blue Bella Records.