Review: Jim Allchin — ‘Prime Blues’

The old proverb ‘Strike while the iron is hot’ quickly comes to mind when reviewing the new album Prime Blues, from pacific northwest guitar man Jim Allchin set for a September 2018 release. For it clearly alludes to the imagery of the blacksmith at his forge, and If he delays in shaping the iron when it is hot and pliable the metal soon cools and hardens, and the opportunity is lost. Allchin astutely heeded this counsel while hot on the heels of his critically acclaimed and chart topping 2017 album Decisions, and continued running with its winning formula. In spring of 2018 he returned to the vaunted Blackbird Studios in Nashville to collaborate again with Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and drummer Tom Hambridge and his team. To kick up the flavor a notch the duo invited special guests Mike Zito, Bobby Rush and The Memphis Horns to add their special sauce to the recipe. The result is a savory collection of 14 amazing new tracks that dig deeper into the blues and prove the notion that indeed “lightning can strike twice.”  

A growling guitar riff and a horn drenched blues rocker “Give it Up,” opens the set of Prime Blues, with Allchin encouraging us all to find our inner truth.  Kevin McKendree spars with Allchin on the Hammond B3 on the greasy blues “Devil Don’t Sleep.” The crew then heads down to the bayou to sing the praises of an enchanting Cajun queen for the swampy “Voodoo Doll,” and keep the groove sexy with enticing rocker “Snuggle Up.” Allchin flat out rips on the full tilt instrumental “Jimmy’s Boogie,” and the horns return for the sweet Memphis-styled love song “Summer Sunrise.” Mike Zito then steps up to the mic for the Texarkana stomp “Enough Is Enough,” featuring another gritty solo from Allchin and fiery honky tonk piano from McKendree.  Bob Britt from the Delbert McClinton band sits in on the swinging autobiography “Found The Blues,” that has Allchin detailing how “music blew his fuse,” and most likely saved his life. The full force of the Memphis horns and a six-piece Nashville band are brought to bear on the bump and grind blues “Two Bad Dreams,” in order to compete with the paramount personality that is Grammy-winner and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Rush.

Next Allchin picks up his acoustic guitar for the old-time tale of hard luck and trouble “Pawn Shop Man,” before shredding more hot leads on the sizzling Chicago Blues shuffle “Lost My Mind.” The soul-searching track “Up To Destiny,” mixes thought provoking lyrics with pop music sensibilities on an arrangement that has a bit of Santana-like appeal. The patented double shuffle from Hambridge creates an authentic motif for Allchin’s tongue-in-cheek dig at our obsession with cell phones on the witty “Tech Blues.” The final track “Log Off,” serves as a clever double entendre, with the bluesy groove serving notice to the end of bad love and the poetic finale of the grand adventure that is the album Prime Blues. Once again, we are blessed to have Jim Allchin share with us his quest for universal truths and superb guitar tone on what could prove to be his crowning achievement.  

For more info about Jim Allchin, check out his website HERE or pre-order the album HERE.

Rick Bowen

Rick grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan playing in school band, choir and show bands. While earning a BA at Western Michigan University in History and Social Science, he was a member of the Bronco marching band and jazz ensemble Gold Company. Moving to the Northwest in 1994, Rick soon landed gigs and sessions with many diverse local artists and is currently a member of the award winning Stacy Jones Band and the host of the all ages School of Jam. Rick is also an associate producer and session musician for Critical Sun Recordings, a contributing writer at Innocent Words, Seattle Examiner, No Depression, The Washington Blues Society and S.T.E.A.M magazine, and serves on the board of directors for the Washington Blues Society. Rick is endorsed by and plays THUMPER CUSTOM DRUMS. Awards: Washington Blues Society “Best of the Blues” award 2009 Best New Band –Stacy Jones Band WBS “Best of the Blues” award 2012 Best Blues Jam - Oxford Saloon Monday Night Jam 2013 & 2014 WBS Best Blues Writer award. 2014 WBS Chris Leighton Blues Drummer BB Award. Nominations: 2009 & 2013 Best Blues Drummer WBS BB awards. 2012 Best NW recording “No Need To Spell it Out –Stacy Jones Band (Rick J Bowen co producer)