Big Plans

Named after a song Muddy Waters recorded in the ’50s, the Mannish Boys (not to be confused with blues harpist Gary Primich’s 1980s band of the same name) bring a distinctive retro flavor to the 15 songs on this, their third CD in as many years. Joined by several guests, the core group is vocalist Finis Tasby; guitarists Kid Ramos, Kirk “Eli” Fletcher and Frank “Paris Slim” Goldwasser; pianist Leon Blue; bassist Tom Leavey and drummer Richard Innes. Their main focus is on Chicago blues (e.g., a stunning “Just to Be With You”—one of Muddy’s personal favorites—with guest vocalist Johnny Dyer; Howlin’ Wolf’s “California Blues,” featuring guest Bobby Jones’ spot-on vocals; “Gotta Move,” an Elmore James knockoff by his cousin, Homesick James, with slide by Goldwasser and vocals by Blue). Ramos visits T-Bone Walker on “I Get So Worried,” while Tasby gives us a fine version of the B.B. King hit “Why Do Things Happen to Me?” There’s just too much good music here to cite it all, but I can’t omit mentioning Rob Rio’s fascinating “Carpet Bagger Blues,” on which his menacing vocals are complemented by his after-hours piano and Fletcher’s stylish guitar.