JAM Magazine CD Review

March , 2014
Review by Chris Br

Point Blank

"Volume 9"

Label: Fairways Records

It's hard to know the writings in a song unless you've lived them. The boys in Point Blank have, and Volume 9 is a testament to what they have, indeed, what we've all seen. The last release from Point Blank was 2008's Fight On, which was a good record in its own right, but V9 sparks that trip to a place we've all known, and wished we'd never lost. It is a testament to the uncompromising state of rock with a timeless message. Every track shows strength, in your face rock in cadence with great musicianship and each song has something to say. Their messages are worth your attention, and you'll enjoy every one. You may even remember when you first heard Point Blank, which for me was at KZFM Corpus Christi, "Mean to your Queenie." Then, Point Blank was managed under the auspices of Bill Ham, who also managed Kinky Freidman. My friend Rusty Burns calls Volume 9 a labor of love. It shows.

By the tracks "Blast!," an upbeat little instrumental to get you going and the guitars are on fire. The entire track is a warning. "Come ON! DO you REALLY know what you're in for here?" Michael 'Mouse' Mays and Rusty Burns have the word on their guitars!

"Howling Wolf," fades up with guitar back masking. Mouse Mays, pointing the way, in a haunting melody they sets the mood for a story. Mouse renders great slide dobro work in this track, along with banjo and mandolin. John O' Daniels tells us of a dream about the Howling Wolf calling me... might be calling you. This a rocking tribute to the blues, with references to "Texas Flood," "Highway 61," and Howling Wolf, a legend who showed us all how to howl those blues and yet it carries the Point Blank cadence throughout. No one else has a sound like this, don't it make ya wanna howl like the wolf?

"Where I Belong," I think a lot of us find ourselves here. I know I have, where you are tired of the concrete and steel atmosphere of the cities we are imprisoned in. We cry out to be set free, back in the wind, back home with the forests and pines. That place for a lot of us is Texas. Point Blank frames it and puts it on the wall.

"Automobile." Get UP! It's DANCE TIME! I bought a new/old car! (Mecum auctions:) ) Lets go for a drive and gets some kicks behind the wheel of my automobile. It's gotta be a bad one too, it scored him a blonde. This is the story of a 36 Ford. I love songs about cars, and this one's joining the lineup with all my other faves! That's my NEW old song! Prepare for Rusty's guitar to light your ass on fire!

"Lies Like Hell." This one creeps up on ya. Johnny's hearing the Dragon voices again, and he listens, John O' Daniels tells us. This would be the first mistake. When he's called out, he lies as druggies will. But he thinks we can't see.

"Johnny Dallas." Johnny's exploits continue. We know he is a South Dallas kinda guy, and he's got those hand signs down. Johnny sirens scream and homeboys run. Only one (gang) color when the dying is done. Once again, John and Rusty lead up a band that lays down the fire. Duck, and turn it up! If you run with the devil, with your soul, you gotta pay!

"Amigos." I had to write Rusty the night I got the demo over this song. It chronicles a lot of our lives, all those things we saw and shared when we were young, the girls, the friends, everything everyone. Where are ya now, my old amigos? Can I go do it all again? I find myself searching and playing by the rules. I've lost a number of those old Amigos, time has caught up with them. I think of them often, so this was a sensitive point for me to start with. This song is simply excellent. Like you, I miss my old amigos too, and sometimes I cry for what was.

"Start the Car." Road Trip? It'll have your accelerator foot tapping the floor, the guitar is talking to me again. Rusty is a God, in that the guitar *talks* to you. It's not just there, it says something to you.

"It Ain't Right." A rambling tune about looking for love. But used to be it was in all the wrong places. Nowadays, that could be anyplace! John lays down great clear vocals, and the guitars walk behind him as we hear about finding Ms. Right... well... she's not really... right.

"Heart of a Fool." John O'Daniel co-wrote this track with Gregg Allman. It's a laid back sultry track, and it shows. Great fill guitar work and very bluesy, you'll understand why Rusty produced it and was going for that old Stax record sound. One of my favorite lines is "Like an old lover's picture, I'll end up on the shelf." Unrequited love, it's always a great bluesy theme.

"To be a Man." Probably my favorite track on V9. It showcases Point Blank in a stripped down in your face march about what it means to be a man. Gotta take a lot of heat to be where I am. All of V9 is a thrill ride, but this song puts me back in the black lights with the R. Crumb posters on the walls and the Furry Freak Brothers comix on the table (G. Sheldon, yes I remember it well). And John's right, sometimes it's really hard to be a man. Fade up Rusty and walk that guitar in! For all your endeavors boy you know you must pay! How many times did your good friend just give up his word! How the town's gone dry and all them shaky deals!

I know I've run long, but I think this album was worth it. If rock means anything to you, this is a collection of great tracks you shouldn't overlook!