East Side Slim
Moss & The Flip Tops – Play It ‘Til
Tomorrow (2 CD set) – Blue Bella, 2007
Nick Moss & The Flip Tops are becoming a fairly
prolific recording band, especially in these days
of record company mergers, musical tastes-of-week,
and public ambivalence to the blues. Of course,
owning and operating your own record company is
one way to play by your own rules, and Nick Moss
has been doing that since the early 2000s. The double
CD Play It ‘Til Tomorrow is the band’s
6th release on Moss’ Blue Bella label (and
they’ve since released another CD in 2009
– Live At Chan’s: Combo Platter No.
Songs: (all songs by Nick Moss except as noted)
Disc One, referred to as Program One in all CD artwork,
is the sort of electric blues that fans of the Flip
Tops have come to expect – heavy duty Chicago
electric blues featuring deep grooves and plenty
of shuffles. Program Two (Disc Two) is another kind
of animal. Nick chose to focus primarily on acoustic-based
music there, split between full band tracks and
duets. Both discs are great listens, and the surprising
inclusion of an acoustic-based disc makes this release
even more special.
As always, the boys in the band don’t stay
put on just one instrument. Nick, Gerry Hundt and
Piano Willie Oshawny all play multiple instruments
– drummer Bob Carter does limit himself to
only drums and percussion! Also, there is a girl
in the band on occasion, as Nick’s wife Kate
sits in on several tracks on either bass or rhythm
guitar. There are also two special guests on hand:
Eddie Taylor, Jr. and Barrelhouse Chuck. Taylor
adds his guitar to several songs on Disc One, and
Barrelhouse Chuck sits in on piano for a song on
1 – electric Chicago blues
1. Late Night Saint
--Ridin’ a killer groove, very much in a Magic
Slim & The Teardrops vein. If you can’t
feel this then you have a hole in your soul. If
anyone ever tells you the blues is only sad music,
play this track for them. This tune features Eddie
Taylor, Jr. on rhythm guitar.
2. You Make Me So Happy
--A very fast up-tempo blues; it makes you kind
of feel like you’re careening down the tracks
behind a runaway locomotive, still picking up speed.
This tune features Eddie Taylor, Jr. on 2nd guitar.
3. Woman Don’t Lie – (Luther
--This is a tune from “Snake” Johnson,
not to be confused with “Houserocker”
Johnson, which is easy to do as both are named Luther
and both did stints in Muddy Waters’ band.
This cut is slinky and raw, befitting the author’s
nickname of Snake. Nick’s wife, Kate Moss,
is handling the rhythm guitar chores here.
4. Mistakes From The Past
--Man, this cut oozes West Side feel. It’s
a slow blues, with the lyrics being about a brother
of a friend of Nick’s who had to serve in
Afghanistan/Iraq and how the experience aged him
much too quickly. The lead guitar lines here are
very raw, imparting an increased feeling of dread
and foreboding into the song. There’s nothing
pretty or romantic about war, folks. This tune features
Eddie Taylor, Jr. on rhythm guitar.
5. Bad Avenue – (Warner Williams)
--This is a tune Lefty Dizz was semi-famous for
playing back-in-the-day in Chicago. The Flip Tops
have rearranged it some. It starts off in overdrive,
in the fashion of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers,
and then settles back into a nice up-tempo shuffle
groove. Watch out for those razor totin’ women
out on Bad Avenue.
6. Lyin’ For Profit
--Aw, man, this one is another track with a killer
groove. It’s a little slower in tempo, but
it sure doesn’t drag. Nice…
7. Herman’s Holler
--I love the title of this one. Kate Moss shows
up again on rhythm guitar. I swear this track sounds
like something Magic Sam could have recorded during
his Cobra Records days. If you aren’t familiar
with Cobra Records labels, you need to be. Magic
Sam, Otis Rush and Buddy Guy all recorded for this
company – during the same time period. That’s
really where the “West Side sound” came
8. Grease Fire
--Here’s a hot instrumental, just a little
on the funky edge. Yeah, Grease Fire describes it
pretty well. Fun! Kate Moss is playing bass here.
9. Rising Wind – (Floyd Jones)
--The Flip Tops take on an old Floyd Jones tune.
Floyd and Moody Jones played and recorded with Snooky
Pryor in the ‘50s; they cut many great tracks
together. This is deep, deep Chicago blues, the
type of thing Muddy made his name with. Nick Moss
is on harp, with Eddie Taylor, Jr. on guitar.
Tend To Your Business
--This tune is groove, feel, raw guitar and declamatory
vocals - everything that is good about Chicago electric
blues. The percussion work sound so cool here; I
dare you to sit still listening to this song! It’s
got that soulful, funky earthiness that a lot of
Howlin’ Wolf’s up-tempo tracks had.
Wolf was one soulful, funky bluesman; many of his
tunes were built around killer grooves.
My Love Is Like Fire
--This mid-tempo cut features Willie Oshawny on
Rhodes-like electric piano, as well as Eddie Taylor,
Jr. on rhythm guitar. I’m diggin’ the
keyboard sound here, and look forward to Willie
using it a little more often.
--Hard blues, with Nick wailing on harp and Kate
Moss on bass. Nick’s voice sounds eerily like
William Clarke’s voice on this song. As Nick
is aging his voice is gaining a very nice deep timbre.
This song definitely reminds me of Clarke’s
Too Many Miles
--This track might be the most primitive song on
Disc One. Gerry Hundt is playing unamplified harp
- straight through a mic, not through an amp. It’s
just a cool old-school vamp. Nothing fancy, but
it sure does satisfy.
14. The Rump Bump
--Can you guess what’s going on here? This
cut is a groover, out to make you a mover, shakin’
what God gave ya, good for what ails ya. Shake that
DISC 2 – primarily acoustic-based
band and duo blues
1. You’ve Got The Devil Inside
--This is a 4-piece band-powered up-tempo shuffle.
This thing cooks right along, and Gerry Hundt puts
on a show with his harp work. He is a heck of a
2. I’ll Be Straight With You
--Mid-tempo full band shuffle, featuring Willie
on piano and Gerry on harp.
3. Another Life Is Gone
--This is a band-format slowwwwww blues. Very deep.
Music in this style always makes me think of Muddy
Waters’ earliest Chess (Aristocrat) records.
4. Fill ‘er Up
--This song features only Nick and Gerry, playing
guitar and harp, respectively. It’s a mid-tempo
instrumental piece – back porch blues –
and is very nice. Gerry is showing off a little
bit on harp, which is just fine. I’d love
to hear him play “lead” harp in a band
or on CD at some point.
5. It’s Written In the Bible
--Another band track. This has a martial feel thanks
to Bob Carter’s percussion work. It is a slow
blues lament concerning the poor manner in which
people are treating each other – the Bible
surely states that just isn’t right. Basically,
we should be treating each other with respect, even
if we don’t always agree with one another.
6. Wild Imagination
--This is an up-tempo shuffle played by the band.
Gerry and Willie sound great here, driving this
thing along hard.
7. You’ll Remember My Name
--This band track might be my favorite on Disc 2.
The performances here are amazing; Piano Willie
is making the piano talk and Nick’s vocals
are very expressive. As a treat, Gerry pulled out
his mandolin for this song.
8. Crazy Mixed Up Baby ‘07
--We have a gentle-sounding duo performance here,
with Nick on vocals and acoustic guitar and Gerry
on acoustic rhythm guitar.
9. Got My Mail Today
-- Another duo performance, this time featuring
Nick on vocals and guitar and Barrelhouse Chuck
on piano. Barrelhouse Chuck is an incredibly talented
piano player, who can do as much justice to the
older blues piano styles as any active blues-based
pianist you can probably think of. Chuck’s
piano is definitely the focus of the tune.
I Shall Not Be Moved – (traditional)
--This is unlike most anything you’ve ever
heard from Nick & The Flip Tops. It’s
a gentle, traditional religious piece, sung in 2-part
harmony by Nick and Gerry, with Nick playing guitar
and Gerry playing mandolin. The sound of the acoustic
mandolin certainly lends itself to facilitating
the gentle nature of the song. Beautiful work, boys.
--The band is back here, taking us down in the alley.
Lament is the perfect word for this tune, as it
has a melancholy feel. The song sounds great. Bob
Carter’s drum work throughout Disc 2 is very
nice, providing much of the mood to the tunes without
ever overpowering them. Proper seasoning is always
important, and Bob knows his spices well.
Married Woman Blues
--A band-powered slow blues, taking you further
on down to the end of the alley, and then dumping
you on the ground out behind the trash cans. By
the time this song was nearing the end I was looking
for a bottle of Thunderbird to ease my own pain.
I’ll Be Straight With You (alternate take)
--This is an alternate take of track 2 from this
disc, with this alternate take being just a little
14. It’s Written
In The Bible (alternate take)
--This alternate take is very different from the
1st take found earlier on this Disc. While the other
version was a band track, this alternate take is
a vocal/acoustic guitar/harp duet between Nick and
Gerry. I think this format actually lent even more
power to the song, and to the song’s message.
has become the norm, Nick Moss & The Flip Tops
have knocked another musical effort out of the park.
I really can’t say enough good things about
this 2 CD set. Disc 1 will absolutely delight fans
of electric Chicago blues of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
It’s groovin’ ensemble blues of the highest
order. Disc 2 takes the listener in a little different
direction, with Nick and the boys (and Kate) playing
primarily in an acoustic fashion, with many of the
tunes being duets. It’s a great change of pace,
and serves to show how good the band really is. There’s
nowhere to hide when the electricity is turned off
(or at least way down) and there’s no need for
anyone in this band to hide – they’re
all top-flight musicians, deep players well versed
in all forms of blues coming out of Chicago. Their
love of this type of material is obvious in everything
they play. STLBluesometer rating of 4.00.
Howland - aka
"East Side Slim"