A story in the L.A. Daily Snob recently mentioned how New York’s David Johansen was avidly embracing the blues. He was appearing at a swanky university on the West Side, a place where the trouble and suffering the locals have seen cannot be estimated. Solo and with the Harry Smiths (no relation), David said he was into the real blues. He brought the legitimate blues to the New York Dolls, you know—not the horrible “rock boogie till you puke blues” that made him feel “soured” on the music.
Ha. Good thing I had Dave and the Snob for bullshit detecting, else I might have given Eric Sardinas’s Black Pearls a nice review. Just in time I realized the title song—while being about tits and ass, I think—was not properly dried up and ancient. Sure, Sardinas had a good voice and could sneak hooks in. And his blurbs mentioned Big Bill Broonzy and Barbecue Bob. He’d even been able to trick record store flunkies into stocking his CDs in the blues-ghetto rack. But it was still the rock booglarization that has so soiled the genre.
Sardinas’s “Bittersweet” has a kicking beat, but it’s an amplified shuffle. And the man plays a Resonator—a real blues guitar!—but it’s loud and distorted, the snarl and snap appealing to low-rent boogiemen who bought Johnny Winter records when he was in the arenas. “Sorrow’s Kitchen” wasn’t a strict swamp country blues, either, but a triumphant “see what ya done” unloading on a disloyal girlfriend. Worst, Sardinas doesn’t even look the part of a bluesman. His previous album took a feeble stab at upholding the image, showing disfiguring tattoos, but there was no hiding “the face” and more of those boogie-fied slide numbers. Christ, he looks a little like Steve Vai!