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Duke Robillard & His All-Star Band - Six Strings of Steel

Duke Robillard Six Strings of Steel

The sonic past continues providing a never-ending source of sustenance for Duke Robillard, be that as a deep pool of fond and equally influential remembrances or as straight-up fodder for his guitar that still hungers after nearly 60 professional years.

Correspondingly, Six Strings of Steel weighs heaviest with vintage material borrowed from the likes of bluesman Lowell Fulson to rocking fireball Ike Turner to jazz fretsman Bill Jennings. This album also marks the Rhode Islander’s return to M.C. Records, where, in 2017, Duke Robillard & His Dames of Rhythm time warped back to the hotsy-totsy 1920s and ’30s.

Here, Duke doesn’t turn back the clocks that far. But he does come prepared as always, with exotic guitars (pictured in the digipack’s centerfold), his All-Star Band (featuring longtime wingmen like bassist Marty Ballou and saxophonist Doug James), and a satchel of his personal earworms, each of which receives justification in the notes for its inclusion. For example, “Lima

Beans,” from 1951 Chess Records, rates as one of the most infectious tunes he has ever heard, yet Link Wray’s definitively badass “Rumble” was the first song he ever learned. Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow” makes the cut. So does Fats Domino’s “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Some Day,” refurbished with a lilting ska chop. Besides being one of two originals, “Groovin’ in the

Swamp” wordlessly embodies what ‘cruising for a bruising’ sounds like. Robillard sings twice; vocalist Chris Cote handles the rest. Luckily, this latest chapter in Duke’s undaunted six-string trek through the history of cool, could not forsake recharging the fantastically thuggish “Git With It!”

Label: MC Records

Release Date: 6/23/2023

Reviewed by Dennis Rozanski


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