Guitarists John Mondin and Bob Kamoske complement each other effectively, serving up an encyclopedic variety of lead and rhythm licks, textures and timbres. Mondin also handles most of the lead vocals, singing with especially deep feeling on his own composition, "Front Page Blues." Meanwhile, trombonist John "Wolfman" Wolf fills out the ensemble with an assortment of background riffs, sometimes overdubbing himself into a one-man section, and contributes several tasty solos. Wolf delivers a particularly pungent plunger-assisted workout on the title track, a workingman's lament with a Bo Diddley beat, sung with sly wit by Kamoske. Dwyer and drummers Leroy Wilson and Kirk "Dr. Drum" Grice ably shuffle, swing and groove throughout, providing a supple yet stable foundation.
Highlights include "She's Crazy," which starts by evoking John Lee Hooker's boom-boom boogie, then ups the ante with key changes and a concluding section that builds some real tension by stacking guitar and trombone riffs in harmony. A cover of Lowell Fulsom's "Pico" has a Memphis soul vibe with a slashing guitar solo reminiscent of Steve Cropper, and guest Eric McSpadden contributes stellar harp and vocals on a jumping version of Fulsom's "Reconsider Baby."
Not every track is an unqualified success -- "Tileman" is a potentially interesting mix of James Brown-style funk and atmospheric guitar effects that never quite gels -- but Trickle Down Blues has enough new twists on the familiar to satisfy old fans and perhaps win some new ones as well.