The Gin Mill Trio - Atomic Blues Hits.
Released 2021 on Goofin Records Reviewed by Kate 17th April 2023
The Gin Mill Trio are: Petteri Karkkila : Vocals and Cocktail Drums Eero Vaajoensuu : Guitar Mika Liikari : Double Bass
If you’re feeling blue in Finland, you need to get your head out of your troubles and into the Gin Mill. The weather might be cold in winter but the Trio’s updated blues are as hot as you can get. Four years after their first release, the Gin Mill Trio are working on new material with an aim to release later in the year, so this is the perfect time to dig into their last album and see what gems we can uncover…
Mean Ole Lonesome Train - From the first moment, it’s very clear that we are dealing with some crisp and professional Blues. There’s no slacking, no reliance to distortion to cover up errors…oh no, this is the real deal. There’s enough of a roll in Petteri’s voice to give this tune a raw edge and a delicious Muddy Waters slurring of the lyrics to give an authentic flavour to the opening track.
Atomic Cocktail - It’s the second time that a cover of Slim Galliard’s 1945 original has come up for review, and I will never get tired of hearing it. This version is heavy on the guitar and has a swirling, relaxed tone, because the world has ended and the Gin Mill Trio have managed to hide out somewhere with a mint julep or two.
Little City Woman - It’s all about the slap bass on this tale of romance across the town and country divide from 1953, and the twitchy, motivating guitar gives it a 21st century edge.
Daddy Rollin Stone - Back to 1944 for inspiration on this one, and the depth of the vocals allow the guitar to take more of a spiked, treble lead. It’s a great choice to schedule a bit of a guitar solo to demonstrate that there’s still life in the blues.
Bad Luck Blues - The title’s borrow from Blind Lemon Jefferson’s 1927 hit, but this peppy tune cancels out the pessimism of the lyrics with it’s upbeat energy and hopping rhythm.
Boogie Like Lightning - Mostly instrumental and completely boppin’, this is the kind of track that will get your toes tapping and hips wiggling!
Bear Cat - We all know about Hound Dogs, but what about Bear Cats? “You ain’t nothing but a Bear Cat, scratching at a door…” croons Petteri, which leads me to wonder what wildlife is like in Finland and how a beautifully stripped down Chicago blues track emerged from their animal experiences.
Winnie The Walker - get your feet walking like Winnie’s to the slap bass rhythm in this midnight smoky tune on the rocks. The trumpet opens the jazzy floodgates to heartbreak.
Dancing Girl - Oriental belly dancing vibes abound with touches of Ring Of Fire. If there’s ever an intersection between rockabilly, country and raks sharqi, this will be the soundtrack.
Star Bootlegger - Get your make up on, fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City for a prohibition era Blues celebration of tappin’ blues. Who doesn’t love a band who makes the most of the cocktail drum setup?
Kansas City Blues -…and now we’re heading out to Kansas for a touch of country train balladry. Get your dancing shoes on for this one where the rhythm section takes centre stage.
Papa’s On The House Top - Pleasingly vintage family number with all the guitar you could ever want. This album goes from strength to strength and the band’s decision to place their tracks in this order is magnificent.
I’m Leavin You Baby - You’d think a song with this title would be a sad one, but absolutely not! The protagonist is so over his ex and ready to keep going, and the long notes are gorgeous in this number with more than a little in common with classic rock anthems.
Wasted Days - When Gin Mill Trio get angry or defiant, they get really good. I love the guts on this track and the ‘come at me’ tone over clipped, old school guitar.
Maggie Campbell Blues - Let the drums do the talking and the guitar nod in agreement, and you’ve got a winning track that could have come out of any decade in the last century.
I Feel Like Steppin’ Out - …and we’re bringing it back to basics with a song that sounds full thirties jazz. The versatility of the slap bass and the night club harmonies work so well, and this is a very intelligent album from three guys who really know their blues.
Listening back over this album absolutely whets your appetite for their new material, which should be arriving very soon. Modern blues can easily sing into replicating the past or trying to hard to be ‘new’, and to find a band walking that line with the delicacy of tightrope walkers is a very pleasing thing indeed!