The Howling Diablos are a long established Detroit based band who blend rock, funk and Blues in a cool and infectious manner. The band have appeared on Fat Possum releases by Nathaniel Mayer and RL Burnside, which were produced by vocalist Tino Gross. The opening 'If You Love Somebody' is a laid back rhythm and blues tune featuring some tasteful steel guitar from guest Calvin Cooke. The faster paced 'Moonshine' is more typical of their jam style, commencing with some powerful drumming from Johnny 'Bee' Badanjek and horns provided by Johnny Evans which interweave with guitars by Erik Gustafson. 'Check It Out' is funk based with a rap from Gross over a funky backbeat of horns and Hammond piano by Jimmie Bones. A melodic version of Randy Newman's 'Momma Told Me Not To Come' features a gospel chorus before the melancholy blues ballad 'Rainin 'In Memphis.' 'Mexican Laundromat' had a distinctly hip hop flavour, a multitude of backing vocals and sequences of slide guitar, while the bar house Blues of 'Leaving In The Morning' follows a far more conventional style. In the hands of the Howling Diablos, both are compelling listens.
It is fair to say that not every title makes the cut, yet this is an enjoyable and unpredictable set of songs that touch bases as disparate as Howling Wolf, Captain Beefheart, Sly Stone and Canned Heat.
The Howling Diablos also released a seasonal EP entitled 'Xmas In Jail", the opener is quite a straight cover of the Clarence Carter song 'Back Door Santa'. The live and studio versions of Tino Gross penned 'Xmas In Jail' provide some festive cheer despite the narrator being deteined in Jackson. Yet the stand out is 'Another Xmas Story', a moody and thoght provoking tale of the homeless on Christmas Eve. The socially aware lyrics combine with effect with funky horns and a superb solo by Jimmy McCarty. Duncan Beattie Blues Matters (UK)