Popa Chubby blends rock, soul and blues on 'Two Dogs'
Rick Van Gerven

Popa Chubby is generally known as a blues artist and with good reason. He's a fine blues guitarist and vocalist. His new album Two Dogs is based in the blues, but it has many other aspects too.

You get a good dose of one of the other aspects of the album in the opening track "It's Alright". This song includes a healthy dose of rock and roll. In fact, it's really more of a rock and roll song with a bit of blues. The keyboards are definitely more rock and roll than blues, as is the guitar solo. The guitar solo in this song is closer to classic rock than any traditional blues sound.

Healthcare has been in the news a lot recently. Popa Chubby adds his contribution to the discussion with the song "Pre-existing Condition". He begins by singing, "I got the rockin pneumonia and the boogie-woogie flu, and my knees don't do what they used to do." He goes on to catalog a list of other ailments including, "Everywhere I go, you know I'm movin' slow." While the lyrics are about knowing death will come from pre-existing conditions, the melody - especially the horns - is upbeat and bright. Whether or not you have a pre-existing condition, it's hard not to enjoy this tune.

Not a lot of artists compare to Dr. John because he is such an original. Popa Chubby brings Dr. John to mind at least on "Me Won't Back Down". This song has the same kind of primal yet mystical sounds Dr. John has produced his entire career. Even the lyrics - especially when Chubby refers to himself as a "peaceful warrior" - are reminiscent of Dr. John. This song provokes a couple different reactions. The rhythm gets your hips moving while the rest of the melody makes you want to close your eyes and be still so you can appreciate everything that goes on.

A much more traditional blues son is "Chubby's Boogie". This definitely carries the spirit of ZZ Top. It is a blues boogie with a pretty heavy dose of rock and roll - especially in the guitar (the solo is pure rock and roll) and the piano. Do yourself a favor and crank the volume when you listen to this one. 

The album ends with live versions of two familiar covers. Popa Chubby and his band do a fine job of putting their own twist on "Sympathy for the Devil". Even if you think the original is one of the greatest songs in rock and roll, you can't help but like this lively version. "Hallelujah" is the other cover at the end of the album. Suffice it to say that if you're a fan of Leonard Cohen's version, this one won't disappoint you.

Popa Chubby shows good range on this album as he embraces sounds other than traditional blues. If you're a fan of Popa Chubby and the blues, this will be a nice addition to your collection. Two Dogs will be available everywhere on Nov. 27.