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Five Horse Johnson - The Mystery Spot

  by Andrew Carver

published: 27 / 4 / 2006

Five Horse Johnson - The Mystery Spot
Label: Select Label
Format: CD


Intriguing shift of direction on sixth album from Toledo-based muscular blues rockers Five Horse Johnson

Intriguing – that is the word for Five Horse Johnson’s sixth album. Intriguing – is this the first time the word has been associated with a band whose muscular blues rock is usually described in terms associated with American-made muscle cars, strong drink and big women? Most likely – and yet there is definitely a subtle shift in the Toledo band’s sound which was previously summed up in most listeners’ minds as robust, rowdy and Raging Slabbish. You might well describe 'The Mystery Spot' in the same words – but there does seem to be something else at work. Eric Oberlander’s voice seems a little less in-your-face than on earlier offerings – and there are some backing vocals on the title track but that doesn’t really explain it. The steady choogle of guitars on 'Ten-Cent Dynamite' could have oozed from the grooves of 'Fat Black Cat' or 'The No. 6 Dance' without anyone being the wiser. There is a new subtlety to some of the percussion - unsurprising considering that the man sitting behind the traps is Jean Paul Gaster of Clutch. A powerful drummer when he has to be, he also throws in little surprises like the cymbal-tapping timekeeping of 'Call Me Down' and the oddball time signature of the title track. Classy background singing and a Led Zep style riff work wonders on 'Ditch Diggers and a Drowning Man'. Without running off a track-by-track list, it seems that Five Horse Johnson have decided to strictly ration out a few new twists, subtly the corners of their sound while keeping the hard-charging heart pumping as usual. While previous albums have worked better as advertisements or reminders of the band’s terrific live shows, 'The Mystery Spot' significantly ups their ante.

Track Listing:-
1 The Mystery Spot
2 Ten-Cent Dynamite
3 Call Me Down
4 ... Of Ditch Diggers And Drowning Men
5 Gin Clear
6 Rolling Thunder
7 Feed That Train
8 Keep Your Prize
9 Three Hearts
10 The Ballad Of Sister Ruth
11 I Can't Shake It
12 Drag You There

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