Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, Fabulous Thunderbirds' Gene Taylor, And Veteran Vocalist Marcy Levy Guest On Sophomore Set
Two years ago, Carlos Guitarlos was surviving by playing on the streets of San Francisco. (The Bay Guardian named him the city's Best Street Musician back in 1994). For the longtime musical leader of semi-legendary Los Angeles roots-rockers Top Jimmy & The Rhythm Pigs -- inspiration for the 1984 Van Halen song "Top Jimmy" -- it had been a long slow downward spiral of divorce, drugs, and diabetes.
In the wake of Top Jimmy's death from liver disease at age 47 and his own near-fatal bout with congestive heart failure, Carlos finally cleaned up his act and recorded Straight From The Heart for the newly created Nomad Records label. Showcasing Carlos's stinging, fluid fretwork, lived-in vocals, and uncanny ability to write original songs in a wide variety of classic styles, the album was swiftly picked up for national distribution by Burnside Records.
Carlos's amazing journey was first chronicled by veteran reporter/Rhythm Pigs fan Bob Baker for a FRONT PAGE, Column One feature in the Los Angeles Times (April 30, 2003). Since then, Carlos has been featured on NPR's "Fresh Air" and "World Cafe" programs, won the L.A. Weekly's award for Best Contemporary Blues/R&B Artist, and seen his life story optioned by About Entertainment for a Hollywood film.
After signing a distribution deal with Hot Records in the U.K., Carlos journeyed to England, where he garnered rave reviews in the (London) Times, the Independent, and Mojo magazine. BBC Radio proclaimed Carlos as "Discovery of the Year!"
On September 13, Carlos returns with Hell Can Wait, featuring another 17 of his original compositions as well as the bluesy howl 'n' woof "Hole In My Pocket" (co-written with Top Jimmy) and the gorgeous R&B ballad "I Found Someone" (co-written with -- and sung by -- former Shakespear's Sister/Eric Clapton vocalist Marcy Levy).
Aside from Levy -- who duets with Carlos on the country-flavored "My Old Dead Body" and contributes backing vocals on the Chicago-style soul of "Get Back," the Cajun-spiced "Keep Me Satisfied," and the Stax/Volt homage "Save A Dance" -- the album's most notable guests are David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and former Blasters/current Fabulous Thunderbirds pianist Gene Taylor. (Both old pals from Carlos's days on the '80s L.A. club circuit.)
Hidalgo shares lead vocal and guitar duties on the Latin-tinged "Shake My Blue" and plays accordion on "Keep Me Satisfied." Taylor can be heard on the rockin' New Orleans rhumba "Got No Time," the shuffling "Here I Come," the jazzy "Drinkin' Again," the jumping "Shake With My Baby," and the barrelhouse boogie-woogie "Say You Love Me."
Occasionally augmented by a quartet of horns, Carlos and his core band continue this musical travelogue through a straight-no-chaser blues ("Baby's Coming Back Home"), a gospel-drenched soul ballad ("I Feel Love"), a lilting Latin groove ("Making Better"), and the juke-joint junglebeat of "Sure Is Good."
Carlos bookends the album with a pair of solo acoustic performances, opening with a ragtime country-blues ("Love Me From The Start") and closing with a halting, delicate "I've Been Dead Since You've Been Gone" that's stark, dark, and on the mark.
In light of the career resurrection that Carlos Guitarlos has experienced over the last two years, clearly Hell Can Wait.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Love Me From The Start
2. Got No Time
3. Get Back
4. Shake My Blue (w/ David Hidalgo)
5. Save A Dance
6. I Found Someone
7. Here I Come
8. Drinkin' Again
9. Say You Love Me
10. Keep Me Satisfied
11. Woman On My Mind
12. My Old Dead Body
13. Baby's Coming Back Home
14. Shake With My Baby
15. Making Better
16. I Feel Love
17. Sure Is Good
18. Hole In My Pocket
19. I've Been Dead Since You've Been Gone