Title: Ten Thousand Watts
Artist: Altered Five Blues Band
Label: Blind Pig
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: September 6, 2019
Milwaukee’s Altered Five Blues Band, led by vocalist Ted Taylor, has been garnering legions of fans since the quintet formed in 2002. On their fifth studio album, Ten Thousand Watts, they generate their own brand of high voltage blues rock across twelve original tracks. The A5’s cohesiveness is immediately evident, a testimony to the band’s seventeen years as a unit and appearances at blues festivals worldwide. In addition to Taylor, band members include guitarist Jeff Schroedl, bassist Mark Solveson, keyboardist Raymond Tevich, and drummer Alan Arber, who joined in 2017.
Opening with the fast and furious rocker “Right On, Right On,” the band proves they are ready to bring it on, with an especially impressive high energy solo from Schroedl on guitar. Ladies might need to whip out their fans for the scorching title track, as Taylor croons “If it turns you on, I’ll take it slow / Drop the voltage, still make you glow / Then bring the heat, make your body rock / Three days later, you’ll feel the aftershock.”
Taylor digs deep into his gravelly low register for the more traditional slow burner “Don’t Rock My Blues,” singing in a whiskey soaked voice, “when the thrill is gone, the sky has cried, and I’m feelin’ born to loose / just let me be, don’t rock my blues.” Taking it down to Baton Rouge where Taylor finds his Cajun queen “Sweet Marie,” Tevich gives his keyboard a workout, pounding out honky tonk and boogie woogie licks non-stop. Switching over to organ on “Dollars & Demons,” Tevich lays the background for Schroedl’s extended guitar solos, while Taylor cries to the Lord for mercy on this gritty grinder with gospel overtones. Closing out with “Let Me Be Gone,” Schroedl provides a fuzzed up guitar groove and special guest Steve Cohen wails on his blues harp as the band pulls out all of the stops on this dynamic finale.
Ten Thousand Watts is shockingly good, with all band members contributing to this surge of power that will electrify listeners. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss