Real Blues Magazine

Holland K. Smith: Walking Heart Attack (Topcat) TCO1992

Yes I know this CD’s been out for over a year but it falls under the   "I’ve-been-too-busy-enjoying-it-to-write-about-it" category which is reserved for precious few discs. Usually they get put on my Discman as workout/hiking inspiration and the only ones that provide "boogaloo fuel" (a combination of machismo, kick ass material and adrenaline-inducing performance) get the nod for acceptability. One thing I have noticed is that nine times out of ten my picks for workout inspiration are usually "Made in Texas" and Holland K. Smith is certainly the pride and joy of Topcat Records, the best blues label in the Lone Star State. Texas has more blues "secret weapons" than the other forty-nine states put together and Holland K. Smith delivers a deadly combination of righteous material and badass delivery. If I was to tell you that Stevie Ray Vaughn, rest his soul, was just representative of the Texas blues scene with at least two dozen more exceptional artists approaching Stevie’s greatness, I wouldn’t be exaggerating and Holland Smith can and does equal Vaughn in some respects although he’s an all together different "bag". Holland employs a funky blues/rockabilly/jazz guitar style that’s infectious, boppin’ and ‘oh-so-cool’, and like most Texans he can sing up a storm, something that’s totally unique to White Texas blues acts and definitely due to the fierce competition and high standards that have been in place and enforced for over fifty years. Don’t forget, we’re talking about a club scene where even Albert Collins himself felt "not good enough" to sing and we all know Albert could sing pretty darn good. Topcat Records is to Texas what Electro Fi Records is to Canada, the best label in the scene today and like Electro Fi, owner/producer Richard Chalk of Topcat has no hesitation in employing the skills of others to produce his albums if he feels it’s the right thing and in this case we have legendary bluesman Anson Funderburgh producing and Anson shows total ego-less restraint in that Holland handles all the guitar work (maybe he had a broken arm?). I cant decide whether or not Holland’s the best songwriter I’ve ever heard in the blues but I do know he’s right up there with Percy Mayfield and Willie Dixon. Just check out "Deacon’s Son" , "Walkin’ Heart Attack" and "Devil in the Deep Blue Sea". Superb lyrics and music and "Devil.." is something that most men encounter at least once in their life: i.e. a super toxic relationship and the ties that bind us to "pretty poison". Smith is easily the most talented "unknown star" in Texas and probably the U.S. So it’s no wonder that this CD is so awesome. Loads of tasty guitar, superb production, tunes and performances make this CD a mandatory purchase. 5 bottles (stars) for sure. You owe it to yourself to hear Holland K.Smith. It’s nice to know that Texans aren’t conforming to "political correctness" when it comes to blues songs.