Russ Nasset and the Revelators | Blue Highway

Published: March 1, 2011


The first notes of Missoula music icon Russ Nasset’s new CD get you hooked on some good ol’ rock ’n roll. Following on last year’s superb Human Tongue, Nasset’s solo effort, Blue Highway is replete with his usual trademarks: catchy tunes and white-hot guitar pickin’.

It also boasts great surrounding talent in the Revelators, his long-time band, featuring his son, Sam, lead electric guitar, Tim Martin, bass, my favorite drummer Kenny Field, and special guests Don Pawlak on pedal steel and engineer Ryan Maynes on all sorts of keyboards and accordion.

The 13 original numbers (12 by Russ and one by Sam) span the range of rock styles with great Fender guitar sounds providing the bedrock.

The elder Nasset recovered from a stroke several years back, and though he doesn’t partake in booze and cigarettes any longer, his voice still remembers doing so, fortunately for us. He’s in great vocal form, singing in his world-weary, river-bottom baritone about lost loves, jealousy, and the too-much-drinkin’, too-much-drivin’ life on the road. It’s perfect.

You’ll get your chunky blues fix in “Honky Tonkin’ Guitar Man,” wherein Russ growls about his “funky little motel room” between squirrelly guitar licks. The country shuffle “I Need a Little Time to Myself” has steamin’ leads from Sam (who seems to have learned pretty well from the old man) and terrific wap-wappin’ drum work from Field.

There are a couple of nice belt-buckle shiners, too. “Needless to Say,” is one, with old Latest Flames bandmate Pawlak providing creamy pedal steel sounds. Another is the 50s prom-dancer “Somebody Steals Your Heart.” Ah-hhh.

You have your barn-burnin’ instrumental, of course. The Nassets tear it up on “Road Rage,” and the rock-solid drums are right in there, but not overpowering.

Sam’s tune, “Sugar Daddy,” finds him channeling Buck Owens, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis all in one swell foop. He exaggerates his syllables to comic effect (“buh-haybee;” “you give me all your lovin,’ I’ll give you all mah mo-hunee”). Fun!

And don’t forget the barroom closer “All Because of You,” the Chuck Berry-styled jitterbugger drenched in reverb that simply boils over (“feel like I’m walkin’ on broken glass, my head is throbbin’ like a robin’s ass”).

Sterling sound that we’ve come to expect from Maynes and cool CD art (the disc itself looks like an old grooved LP) add to the inventiveness. Pick this one up!

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– Mariss McTucker

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