On the opening track of his new album, "Raw Deal," singer Bill Perry bellows out in his best biker baritone that he's a "Bluesman." He needs to make that clear, because his music is so often overwhelmed by psychedelic-rock guitar solos in the style of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Unfortunately, Perry lacks the instrumental and vocal lyricism of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Hendrix as well as their firm connection to an earlier generation of bluesmen. As a result, "Raw Deal" succeeds not as blues or as rock or as a hybrid of the two.
Perry, a veteran of the New York blues scene, boasts a big, loud voice and an aggressive approach to the guitar. Unfortunately, loud-and-aggressive is the only gear he feels comfortable in, and producer Popa Chubby, not known for subtlety himself, eggs Perry on.
Perry wrote eight of the 11 tracks on the disc, but his melodies are minimal and his lyrics awkward. Even when he tackles such meaty subjects as Harlem poverty and the Iraq war, he musters little more than commonplace pieties, a stomping beat and high-pitched guitar noodling. And when he sings a song as well written as Tom Waits's "Til the Money Runs Out" or Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody," he stumbles over the phrasing.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Saturday at Madam's Organ. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Bill Perry, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)