Earl & The Agitators All Star Band
Featuring Scott Holt
Shaken & Stirred
Foghat Records
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2018
Shaken & Stirred” is the second release from the Foghat spin off band known as Earl & The Agitators.  The band – which was born out a passion for rock, blues and country music – consists of: Foghat founding member Roger Earl on drums; Foghat alumni Bryan Bassett on lead, slide and bass guitars, Craig MacGregor on bass and Rodney Quinn on bass and vocals; ten year Buddy Guy alum Scott Holt on lead guitar and vocals; Tony Bullard on guitar; and Mark Petrocelli on percussion.
Shaken & Stirred” contains eighteen tracks totaling nearly eighty minutes of smokin’ music.  Of them, six are band originals and five are bonus tracks recorded live at Club Arcada in St. Charles, IL.  According to the band, the recipe used in the creation of their music involves taking some old Chess and Sun Records 45’s and tossing them into a blender with a dollop of thundering drums, thumping bass and searing electric guitars.  Now you know what you’re in for.
The disc opens with “Upside Of Lonely” (Hambridge/Nicholson/Thackery), one of the very few songs ever recorded that attempt to make being lonely a good thing.  The song uses a list of mostly lame but somewhat humorous situations that can now take place in your life since being dumped by your lady.  They include: always having ESPN on and being able to watch the game all day; eating pizza three times a day and never having to watch your weight; never having to hear from a mother-in-law; being able to drop dirty clothes on the floor and letting the trash pile up outside the door;  and of course, that all important ability to now smoke a big ol’ cigar in the living room.  All envious things indeed.  Musically, It’s a shuffle that features Roger and Craig in a strong rhythm groove, and Scott – doing another of the things that being lonely affords him to do more of – play smokin’ guitar leads any time he dam well likes.
On an original track that asks the question “Where’s the Rock n’ Roll?” the answer is easily quite evident – RIGHT HERE!  This one’s six minutes of what put Foghat on the music map in the first place – very hard driving rhythm, seriously smoking slide guitar and profound vocals.  Oh yeah, your rock n’ roll is right here baby.
Bordering on a ballad and being a bit more into the slow blues arena than the rest of the tracks, “Love Isn’t Kind” – another of the originals – is one of my personal favorites.  Unlike the upside of lonely, this one’s all about the downside of love.  “It will break your heart and laugh while it dies; it feeds on the pain and on the tears in your eyes.  It will twist you up and break you inside; it feeds on your tears and the sound of your cries.” are just a few of love’s sometimes vicious characteristics.  Wearing his heart on his sleeve and his sorrow so evident, Scott owns this one.  Musically, there are several extended guitar stand outs that, by my taste, are some of the best on the disc.
By far, the original “Honey Do List” is the funkiest track of the bunch.  From the short opening drum solo quickly followed by some heavy bass lines, Roger and Craig are all over this one.  Definitely one for the mover and shakers.
Staying in the rhythm driven mode is a track titled “Runaway Tra……opps, excuse me – the music took over my thoughts…..it’s actually “Lonesome Train” (Burnette/Burnett/Moore/Suotsky).  Think of a steam engine with four men vehemently shoveling coal into the fire.
Before hearing “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (K. Kristofferson), if you had told me that I’d be hearing this group of rockers this doing a country song I’d probably have my doubts about that.  That said, they didn’t just do it – they nailed it.  From the vocals, to the slide guitar and right down to that get-a-long-little-doggies type rhythm, these Johnny Cash loving rockers were all over this one.  Can Earl and the Agitators playin’ the Grand Ole Opry be far away?  Probably very far but on the other hand, from what I just heard, I wouldn’t rule out a full tilt country album.
There’s probably not a boomer aged TV fan out there that doesn’t remember the “Peter Gunn Theme” (H. Mancini) but I promise you this – from the original, right through all it’s covers , even Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s masterpiece – you’ll never hear a more aggressive version than this.  On this seven-and-a-half minute live version, the horns, keyboards and synthesizers have been laid to rest and the rhythm, percussion and guitars have been cranked up several notches.  WOW!
Other tracks on “Shaken & Stirred” that are literally shaken and stirred include: three other originals titled “I’m Coming Home, “ “Fallen Angel” and “All Because Of You“; “Guess Things Happen That Way”  (J. H. Clement); “High Heal Sneakers” (R. Higginbothom); “Linda Lu” (R. Sharp); “Gone Dead Train” (Nitzsche/Titelman); “Love me Love You Baby” (W. Dixon); “Shakey Ground” (Hazel/Bowen/Boyd), “Wild Horses” (Jagger/Richards); and “Knock On Wood” (Cropper/Floyd).
With the 2019 Blues Music Awards nominees about to be announced on January 9th, I’m thinking I just reviewed one of the nominations for the “Best Rock/Blues Album” category.  If I’m correct, it’s got my vote.
www.earlandtheagitators.com is where you now need go to get your hands on a copy of “Shaken & Stirred” and to find out more about the band.  When you do, Please tell the guys – and Linda Too – that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
                                  Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
                                 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient
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