It says in the PR material that Popa Chubby, aka New Yorker Ted Horowitz, describes his performance style as “the Stooges meets Buddy Guy, Motorhead meets Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson”. Well, perhaps not. But I don’t say that to put him down. I just think he’s a less manic kind of blues rocker, with a particular forte in funk stylings, and when he dials up that groove he sometimes hints at the kind of power-soul served up by Southside Johnny.
That vibe contributes to three of the strongest songs on Two Dogs. “It’s Alright” has a Sixties-style melody that brings to mind the Everly Brothers, over a soulful arrangement featuring prominent piano from long time collaborator Dave Keyes and a funky guitar solo from Chubby. “Rescue Me” features a soulful chorus and a gritty, jolting guitar riff. And best of all there’s “Dirty Old Blues”, a blast of soulful blues which would be even better if the horns were jacked up. But it still pulls together urgent vocals, ringing guitar, and good dynamics.
He gets funkier still on the strut of “Preexisting Conditions”, which has a classic melody, witty lyrics, and sparkling guitar lines scattered throughout, while the punchy “Shakedown” has a twisting riff akin to Zep’s “Heartbreaker” and outbreaks of wah-wah guitar. “Me Won’t Back Down” goes even further in the funk direction with its Isaac Hayes-style strident ’70s sound.
In a more subdued vein, “Wound Up Getting High” is a satisfying reflective outing led by acoustic guitar and Roy Bittan-ish piano stylings from Keys. “Sam Lay’s Pistol” is differently downbeat, smoky and moody over a ticking cymbal sound and garnished with prickly guitar lines. “Chubby’s Boogie” though, is something different, a collision between a boogie riff straight out of the early ZZ Top playbook, some honky tonk piano, and a flickering, spiky lead guitar theme.
Two Dogs is a good album, and Chubby is a good songwriter. I like it, but I reckon he’s capable of delivering something more memorable. Grow those horns, Popa, crank it up, and give us a properly floor-shaking rock’n’roll’n’soul outing next time.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– It’s Alright
– Preexisting Conditions
– Dirty Old Blues
– Wound Up Getting High
– Chubby’s Boogie
The Big Hit
– Dirty Old Blues
Review by Iain Cameron