With an introduction that will make you almost sure you are listening to a legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd bootleg, Catfish Haven's third album Devastator kicks off with a confidence and enthusiasm that makes them hard to place. Your immediate assumption might be that the band are a 70's rock tribute act, and while the album is unashamedly retro there's a wealth of great material on here - worthy of many of of the band's obvious influences.
If Aretha Franklin has refused to let Matt "Guitar" Murphy quit the cafe and put the band back together, Jake and Ellwood Blues might have called on second choice backing band - Duane and Gregg Allman. Their southern rock could have pushed the Blues Brothers into a whole new territory, adding a heavy-rocking boogie to their Sam Cooke-influenced soulful style. Surpringly enough, Catfish Haven are not a sprawling 11-piece rock orchestra, but just a three piece from Chicago - with a very big sound.
The party train leaves the station on opener Are You Ready, before passing through the infectous Prince-tinged guitar of Set In Stone (an unmissable highlight and certainly a future Chimpomatic Song Of The Day, mp3 here), as George Hunter wails "There's a train, that leaves the station of my mind". There's no slowing down for the foot-stomping piano on Buying My Time, or the furious instrumental workout of Full Speed as this unstoppably entertaining listen plows full steam ahead, right through to the very end.
This is one retro sound that has been long in need of re-invention and thankfully the band remain firmly on the side of homage rather than pastiche - more Black Mountain than Wolfmother. You can either jump on board right here, or at the very least dust off some Allman Brothers and leave your blues at home.