Fuel Junkie is a young, Montreal-based horn band, none of whose players have featured in this column before. Friends from childhood, Mark LeClerc is the lead vocalist & song writer and he also plays tenor sax. Philippe Brochure-Pelletier plays the other tenor and Patrice Luneau is on baritone. Antoine Loiselle is the guitarist, Jean-François Charest, bass and Philippe Fleury is on drums. Two trumpets and two trombones are added on five of the songs. They seem to have a fascination with cars & car racing given the band name, album art & title and the opening song roars out of the starting gate. “All Out” is how he races and he’s ready. LeClerc has done a masterful job arranging those seven horns on this one, it smokes.  Some New Orleans rhythms and a baritone sax solo announce a tough blues: “High Stress, Low Money” – it doesn’t seem that much more can go wrong for our singer. “(I Play the Blues my Way) Can You Dig it” is an attractive Meters-like blues with horns laid back so that Loiselle can solo at length, and inventively. This one is aimed directly at the blues purists. They do straight ahead blues too, in fact a sequence of four of them, dealing with the usual relationship issues but with very good lyrics and superb arrangements for the horns plus guitar that take these blues far beyond the usual. “Bad Luck” is exactly that, with a superb tenor solo partly doubled on guitar. “V-Twin”, another driving reference, is slightly faster, and “Kiss in the Moonlight” has an uptempo, stop time arrangement. The fourth, the slow blues “Hard Times” is an excellent break up song with a powerful guitar solo. They break up the program nicely after that with an attractive slow ballad “Once or Twice” before car racing returns with “Get Out on the Road”, a rocker about the king of the strip and his car that uses all the horns and uses them very well once more. “Torqueflight” is a rocking instrumental, again with all the horns and with lots of solos all round. Saving the most ambitious for last, “Pushing Me Away” is powerful blues rock song about what happens after a sudden, perhaps uncalled for, outburst. The arrangement features plenty of stunning guitar work and low horns, a well-done highlight. As I write this, Fuel Junkie is in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge, sponsored by the Montreal Blues Society. An album well worth searching out, their web site is www.fueljunkieband.com.

February 2020 - Rott’n Dan and Lightnin’ Willy
Top Blues - February 2020