CD review by Roger-Z (10/19/07)
Appeared in More Sugar, November 2007, P. 15A
"Three Leg Dogs & Old Skool Cats" by singer Robert Charels mixes the best of the old with the new. Though he calls
himself a blues singer, he presents a wide variety of material here, ranging from a Muddy Waters medley, to Fifties
style ballads, to funk. Indeed, the CD contains only two shuffles! Although Charels touches upon the usual
themes of love and cheating, he also throws in a dash of positive thinking. Harking back to the Yardbirds, Charels ups the ante
by showcasing two flame-throwing guitarists. Produced by legendary bluesman, Michael Hill, this album showcases
everything that's right about contemporary blues.
The band consists of Robert Charels (vocals, percussion), Bob Petrocelli (guitar), Anthony Steele (guitar), Eric
Mauriello (bass), Dennis Cotten (drums), and Michael Hill (guitars, vocals). In the best blues fashion, the
rhythm section of Dennis Cotten and Eric Mauriello provide a solid platform while never intruding into
the spotlight. That job falls to the vocalist and two lead guitarists.
Robert Charels sings higher than most blues singers, slightly reminiscent of Paul Butterfield. Charels
brings a positive, healing vibe to the music as evidenced in the self-penned, funk-powered "Good People."
"Let's get together to make it better. We have the power of me and you. We're gonna make it if people care.
There are good people everywhere." Many times, he sounds more on the r&b tip, as in "Playin' on Me."
Here he chides a lover who puts more energy into her outside men than into her main squeeze.
This song features both guitarists at their best. One strums a creamy-smooth rhythm part while
the other lashes out with stinging, Les Paul style guitar leads. They complement each other perfectly.
As a matter of fact, this album serves a primer in English, blues-rock guitar. Just listen
to the opening turnaround on the slow blues "Don't Even Know." Or catch the licks spread all over
"Need a Friend." This guitarist definitely studied Jeff Beck. And then added a tasty dose of dissonance.
The lead guitars also shine on the speeded up Muddy Waters medley, "Mud On The Tracks."
And let's not forget the tasty Allman sounding rhythm riff on "Three Leg Dog."
Unlike many of the today's blues albums recorded live in the studio, this CD sounds put together
Seventies style. The rhythm section lays down the basic track live, and then everyone else overdubs.
You can tell the singer and guitarists put a lot of time and effort into getting every riff right. The
diversity of rhythms and song structures insures that the listener's interest never lags. Check out the
vocal harmony on Michael Hill's "We Hardly Make Love."
If you like your blues playful and positive, and you love your guitars creamy, loud and rough, pick up
Robert Charels' latest CD, "Three Leg Dogs & Old Skool Cats."