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June 22, 2024

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Jonny Lang
Lie To Me (A&M Records)
By: Melanie Campbell

Are you one of those folks that thought 'blues rock' died with Stevie Ray Vaughn?? Did you bawl in agony the first time that you heard ZZ Top's 'Eliminator'?? (SYNTHESIZERS? WHAT was up with that?? Oh, yeah, 'that new-wave thang' again...) Were you upset that this genre had taken a back seat to the 'Adult Contemporary' snooze-radio format that had even managed to hold Eric Clapton's genius hostage for a time?? Well, you can put all that behind you now...remember, 'da blooz' is the reason that there's a 'rock-n-roll' to begin with, and despite the truest effort to destroy music by all things corporate, it ain't gonna be dyin' off anytime soon, nosiree bubba! If Jonny Lang has anything to say about it, they'll be around for a mighty long time, my freinds. The guy is a living, breathing subscriber to the credo "And on the eighth day, God created Robert Johnson. And this was good"; remember that, it's a very important lesson, kids. Everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Wallflowers, not to mention every speed-metal-skronk-thrash-punk band on the planet, owes something to RJ, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Muddy Waters, and every musician worth their salt'll tell you that themselves. And Jonny Lang-in his mid-teens, no less-has obviously studied those lessons already and has put them to good use on 'Lie To Me', his major-label debut. Lang (originally from Fargo, yaaa, that one) now calls Minneapolis home, where the now-defunct (?) Replacements and that 'GlyphGuy' hail from, two more artists who tipped their musical hats to the blues kings on a regular basis. Can you say 'Crossroads' (The movie, not the song)? We'll skip the Cinderella story, and just talk about the music, as we feel quite sure that you'll be hearing more about this fine young upstart in the months to come. Musically, he tackles subjects that other adolescent punks don't know squat about, in a way that guys three times his age can only dream of, in a voice that belies his age. The covers of note on this release include 'Matchbox', the Ike Turner classic; 'Back For a Taste of Your Love', from Syl and Brenda Johnson, and Darryl Carter; 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl' that sch-mok-innn' harp riff immortalized by Sonny Boy Williamson, where Lang serves up the tastiest guitar leads this side of George Thorogood; and, a standout on this release, 'A Quitter Never Wins', the Tinsley Ellis/ Margaret Sampson-penned ode that'll make you slug yer shot and howl at the moon as you lament the loves that done you wrong all your life. He's a decent tunesmith in his own right, as well. Originals credited to him on the disc, 'When I Come to You', and 'Missing Your Love', don't sound out of place next to 'Hit the Ground Running' from Lunn and Silbar-what? You've never heard Southside Johnny or the Iron City Houserockers doin' this one?? Where have you BEEN?? The title track is a song that'll stand up years from now-it would be a grand event to hear Tina Turner wrap her lungs around THAT one. And wander down to the old pool hall, will ya, and 'Rack 'Em Up'; you can just picture Minnesota Fats whuppin' the ass off of everybody in the joint, while the whiskey's a-flowin', the floozies are floozin', and the boys in the band are wailin' the wail that makes it possible for your mind to take you there in the first place. That's what it's all about, right? Where you wanna go to-day?? Set your butt on cruise-control and fly it right to heaven on this creamy schlice of 'da blooz', on which Lang, with all the professionalism that someone so young can muster, assures you that he ain't just another 'flavor of the month'. Produced by David Z-yes, that David Z, the one who brought you the aforementioned 'Glyph Guy', and the Fine Young Cannibals-'Lie to Me' is a release that shows major promise for this budding guitar-maestro. It's downright scary when you realize that he's only gonna get better...
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