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Daily Texan: Mannish Boys' hardcore electric blues provide great

BYLINE LEE NICHOLS - 07/11/1988

As I walked into Hole in the Wall July 2, the Mannish Boys were just cranking into Muddy Waters' I'm a Man. That's a damn fine way to start an evening. The Mannish Boys immediately proceeded to impress a blues-hungry crowd by handling the song the way it should be dealt with - loud and raunchy, with a heavy rhythm and screaming guitars. Muddy would have wanted it that way. If originality is what you're looking for, the Mannish Boys aren't the band for you. But if you want hard-rocking blues, then this increasingly popular Austin quartet should be the fix you need. The Mannish Boys are what the Fabulous Thunderbirds should have been. Until the T-Birds accidentally hit it big with Tuff Enuff, they were everybody's favorite white-boy blues band. But then they found that crap sells and started putting on record. Therefore, the Mannish Boys should be the heirs to the throne. Like the T-Birds, they certainly won't fool you into thinking they're black. But that doesn't mean they can't blast the blues. All four of these musicians have talent, and they understand what the electric blues pioneers were trying to do. The driving force of this band is vocalist Gary Primitch, who also plays lead guitar and harmonica. He is superb at all three. His singing is full and rich, the hairy-chested kind of vocals that an electric blues band needs. On guitar, he plays the screaming type of licks that Austin guitarists are famous for. Sure, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins have done it before, but good guitar is still good guitar, even if it's the second time around. His treatment of early Freddie King instrumentals was perfect. Primitch's harp is also very good. He has a long way to go before he can match the T-Birds' Kim Wilson, but the crowd felt inclined to applaud more than one of his solos. The band gave Primitch solid backing. Rhythm guitarist Gil Hartman and drummer Kenny Felton provided a full sound without being noisy, and Frankie Meyer's basswork is more than competent. He also played the rarely-seen standup bass, a great instrument that more bands should return to. The Mannish Boys have an album in the stores, A Lil' Dab'l Do Ya, released about a year ago, and the upcoming Satellite Rock should be out August 1. If the albums match up to the group's live performance, blues fans should find them worth putting down a little money for. Don't expect the Mannish Boys to be famous. They are definitely a bar band - although a "bar band" in this town is nothing to turn one's nose up at - and their lack of an original sound will hold them down commercially. But if it's a Saturday night and you want to dance to some heavy guitar music, find out where these guys are playing. You won't be disappointed.

 

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