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TBTS Reviews: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Scandalous

March 20, 2011

Movin’, groovin’, down & dirty. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears don’t pull any punches with Scandalous, their sophmore release on Lost Highway Records. “Booty City” is officially the first true kick your ass track of the year. If I didn’t know better I’d think the masters had been lost years ago, buried deep in some forgotten record company vault since 1971. It’s not hard to imagine them opening for James Brown or Sly & the Family Stone in their heyday. You won’t find any Auto-Tuned vocals here folks. These guys are the real McCoy and absolutely dynamite live. Check out this YouTube clip of them performing with Reverend Gean West and The Relatives at this years SXSW festival for a little taste.

Respectful tribute to those that came before is paid on a number of tunes from Scandalous. George Thorogood and The Destroyers get the nod on “Mustang Ranch,” which comes across as a souped-up version of their shot at “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and “You Been Lyin” sounds like it could have been a Chambers Brothers outtake. Blues, soul, R&B, rock -n- roll: it’s all here, and it’s all good. “You can’t fake the funk” said Bootsy Collins. Almost entirely shunning effects, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears have a stripped down raw sound that can’t be duplicated using studio tricks. It’s either there or it’s not, and no plug-in in the world is going to do it for you. That’s their strength and unspoken guarantee: what you hear on the disc is going be even better in concert. Much better.

As it is relatively impossible to remain motionless during the 38 minutes of Scandalous, it’s probably best to just give in and let your feet do what comes naturally. My only complaint is that they didn’t give us more music this time around. There was plenty of room for an additional triplet of tracks to top off the tank. Leave the people wanting more? I definitely do.

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