Cirkus Prütz – Blues Revolution Review

While Dr. Grier recently lamented that there was little to find in the neck-deep tar pool that is the AMG promo pile, imagine what it’s like for a n00b who has to wait patiently until Steel loosens my chains and lets me out of my dark cell to pick at the leftovers. Still, on my most recent forced dive, eyes burnt out from the light, I managed to come up with an oddity that wasn’t a one-man black metal project. Instead, I came up gasping for air with a Swedish blues record clutched in my sticky mitts. I have no idea how this thing made it through the filter, or why Cirkus Prütz would want a bunch of disgruntled metal writers who argue all day about hobo wine and Deafheaven to review their album. Still, I’ll take it. It’s probably better than whatever Greek power metal record from 2014 is still lurking down there and I’m anxious to earn my weekly gruel.

Circus Prütz’s classic blues rock leanings are on display immediately with the “Space Truckin’”- esque opener “Blues Revolution.” This is your dad’s or even your grandpa’s rock n roll depending on your generational suffix. While the style is classic, it isn’t exactly olde. It’s got a modern luster that tips a vegan leather Stetson to its forerunners. There are flavors of ZZ Top (“Modern Day Gentleman” is essentially a remake of “Sharp Dressed Man.”), Molly Hatchet and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The production and songwriting are a cleaner, radio-friendly style that’s more Jeff Healy than Zeppelin. There’s some swagger and a few choice guitar riffs, but other than lyrical references to AC/DC and Motörhead, the metal detector needle doesn’t move far. While Cirkus Prütz references those two bands, they don’t leave the same trail of bloody eardrums behind.

I may have written off Cirkus Prütz as an exceptional bar band that was 40 years late to the gig if I hadn’t listened to their previous record, White Jazz-Black Magic. That record has all the dirty, grimy, gnarly riffs I wanted to hear on Blues Revolution. Where Blues Revolution shoots for the lowest common denominator with a lot of flimsy blues tropes, the first record has more heart to it. I’m not sure who the intended audience is for Blues Revolution, but this is the type of thing I could put on when my dad comes over and we’d both enjoy but not love. Making a blues rock record in 2022 seems like a risky endeavor. Older audiences are married to their Alman Brothers and B.B. King records and newer audiences are searching for fresh genres.

Blues Revolution’s biggest weakness is its lack of originality. While it sounds good, every song dials in an existing blues trope that has been beaten to death by so many Les Pauls. You’ve got the boogie man (“Boogie Woogie Man”), the crossroads (“The Devil in Me”), alcohol (“Gotta Quit Drinking”) and women who’ve overstayed their welcome (“Headache”). I will say that, despite its flimsy lyrics, “Headache” is a rocker and my favorite track on the album. “Let’s Join Hands” is another exception that channels the darker shades of Leonard Cohen. The band are all talented players and guitarists Franco Santunione and Christian Carlsson swap duties delivering tasty whiskey-tinged licks. They play in the pocket and hit all the right notes but don’t leave a definitive stamp on the music. Their tone is big and bright, a bit like Stevie Ray Vaughn’s, and is fun to hear after so many death metal records.

On a Saturday night, after dousing yourself in aquavit and hobo wine, Cirkus Prütz would probably seem like the best bar band you could catch in Gothenburg. They’re a solid bluesy-rockabilly band and I’ll admit, Blues Revolution grew on me after my initial gripes. Like a good blues album, it has a friendly, sympathetic quality that’s easy to appreciate from a darkened corner of the room. The production sounds big and the guitars take the spotlight. It’s contagious and easy to like in a nostalgic way. I hope next time the Cirkus comes to town, they’ll forgo the radio-friendly hits, crank their Marshalls and shoot from the hip rather than for the top 40. Then, the Prütz will be in the pudding.1

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metalville
Releases Worldwide: July 29th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. No grüel for you! – Steel
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