Smokin' Joe Kubek comes out of the same Dallas blues scene that produced similar guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, and Anson Funderburgh. Much as Funderburgh teamed up with Sam Myers, Kubek has found an older blues singer, Bnois King, to complement his instrumental licks. Kubek is more of a psychedelic, Stevie Ray-influenced guitarist than Funderburgh, though, and King is more of a smoother, Charles Brown-influenced singer than Myers. That unusual combination of flamboyant fretwork with cool-as-ice crooning gives the Kubek-and-King team its special niche on the Texas blues circuit.
On their third album, "Texas Cadillac," Kubek and King are accompanied only by their new rhythm section of bassist Bobby Chitwood and drummer Ralph Power. The 11 songs are dominated by Chicago blues standards from Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, and Jimmy Reed, but Kubek gives the material a Lone Star feel with the sort of stinging, high-pitched guitar fills and loping beats associated with Albert Collins and Freddie King.
Muddy Waters' "Still a Fool," for example, opens with Kubek's reverb-drenched solo, which he decorates with prickly high notes over a lazy, rolling rhythm. The few original tunes are even more Texan in character. On the fast shuffle "No Time," for instance, King's honeyed baritone glides over the beat even as Kubek sprays guitar notes with an impeccable sense of timing. --Geoffrey Himes