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Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys | My Life (Twentieth Anniversary)

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My Life (Twentieth Anniversary)

by Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys

Original blues played over traditional grooves
Genre: Blues: Chicago Style
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Handyman
4:13 $0.99
2. Beehive Baby
3:43 $0.99
3. Creature of Habit
2:57 $0.99
4. Bad Little Girls
3:41 $0.99
5. I Want to Love You
4:19 $0.99
6. Once the Women Start Talking
3:18 $0.99
7. My Life
4:18 $0.99
8. Here Comes My Baby
4:16 $0.99
9. Praying for a Princess
4:05 $0.99
10. Big Bee
3:17 $0.99
11. Lookin' for Love
5:13 $0.99
12. Slow Burn
4:45 $0.99
13. Someday When I'm Dead and Gone
3:47 $0.99
14. I Can Do You Right
5:01 $0.99
15. She's Movin' On
4:43 $0.99
16. I'm Your Honey Boy
4:16 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
" Every aspect of the album is everything you could ever wish for from a Blues album so my recommendation is that this is the album you have to have in your collection and there is no better way to kick off 2018. Blues can be interpreted in many ways but then again we want it to remain Blues not some shallow imitation. Trust me this truly is the skinny." Peter Merrett/PBS 106.7FM Melbourne Australia

"Top 30 CD for Dec/Jan" Blues Power

"Your new CD is great" Gil Anthony/Blues Power

"Top Ten Pick" Smokestack Lightning

"Sounds excellent" Mark Thompson/Suncoast Blues Society

"This wonderful compilation of their best stuff is fabulous!....Reverend Raven “My Life”

Twenty years of the best of the best. Just ace top drawer! Better check it out" Blue Barry, Smoky Mountain Blues Society

"Your new CD is great" Steve Jones/Crossroads Blues Society

"Hot Stuff" Midwest Record Review

"My Life' is an excellent compilation album that, in view of the line-up, cannot be
missed by any blues enthusiast! Rootstime Belgium



to write a review

Tom Hyslop

Reverend Raven "My Life"
"Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys are one of the hardest working and most accomplished bands on the Midwest blues circuit. Their latest CD, My Life, offers a career retrospective, with updated recordings of original tunes drawn from 20 years of studio sessions. A range of classic grooves underlie Richard Raven’s witty, gritty, always memorable songwriting. Raven’s hip persona and assured vocals are as cool as his guitar work is hot, and the Altar Boys are on the money through various lineups, delivering rock-solid rhythms and spotlighting the playing of several harmonica aces. My Life is sure to bring overdue recognition to this veteran outfit."

Tom Hyslop

Graham Clarke/Blues Bytes

Friday Blues Fix Blog
Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys recently celebrated their 20th year as one of the hardest-working blues bands in the business. The Milwaukee-based band has long been recognized as one of Wisconsin’s finest bands, racking up regular regional awards for Best Blues Band for nearly 20 years with their excellent brand of straight-up, no-nonsense traditional blues that pay homage to the blues of Chicago, the delta, and the swamp as well as jazz, swing, roadhouse and jump blues. The good Reverend and his mates recently released their eighth album, My Life (Nevermore Records), as part of their celebration.

My Life consists of sixteen tracks from the band’s previous four studio sessions, all remixed or re-recorded as a new version with a new musical lineup. The jazzy shuffle “Handyman” opens the set, and the Reverend’s smooth baritone and guitar work is complemented by some killer harp from Cadillac Pete Rahn, who also plays on the next couple of tracks, “Bee Hive Baby,” a swampy take-off of “Baby, Scratch My Back,” and the jump blues “Creature of Habit.” Madison Slim plays harp on the grooving “Bad Little Girls.”

Benny Rickun mans the harp for the next several tracks, including the driving “I Want To Love You,” the funky rhumba tunes “Once The Women Start Talking” and “Here Comes My Baby,” and the autobiographical title track from Raven’s days searching from his dream girl. Rickun, Raven, and keyboardist Danny Moore have a blast with the rollicking “Praying For A Princess,” and “Big Bee” revisits the swamp blues of Slim Harpo.

“Looking For Love” and “Slow Burn” both feature sax man Big Al Groth. The former tune is a strong boogie rocker and the latter is a mid-tempo shuffle. Westside Andy Linderman’s harmonica chops are on display for the final four tracks, “Someday When I’m Gone,” the slow blues “I Can Do You Right,” the funky “She’s Moving On,” and the swinging jump blues closer “I’m Your Honeyboy.”

This is a fabulous retrospective of one of the best traditional blues band currently practicing. It had to have been hard to limit this set to 16 tracks, but it will definitely encourage new listeners to dig deeper into the catalog of Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys.

Roots Time Belgium

Reverend Raven Twentieth Anniversary - My Life
Reverend Raven & the Altar Boys have been playing originals for over twenty years with a nod to Slim Harpo, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells & the three Kings. They are still working on their mission today: "to spread the gospel of the Blues ...". 'My Life' is an excellent compilation album that, in view of the line-up, cannot be missed by any blues enthusiast!

Blues Music Magazine

Reverend Raven "My Life"
"Each track has it's own timbre and sound and gives one a smorgasbord of listening pleasure."

Bill Wilson

My Life "Twentieth Anniversary CD
Reverend Raven & company are celebrating 20 years of playing blues throughout the Mid-West and Florida. The Reverend has been playing blues ever since 1971, when he saw Freddie King perform. I guess you could call that his "Damascus Road" experience. It would have been enough to knock me off my ass, to be sure. After a 15 year stint in the Navy he moved to Milwaukee, where he teamed up with Madison Slim. He and Slim went to work, and the Reverend has hardly taken a break ever since. Personnel have changed over the years, but the band has done nothing but get tighter with each passing gig. This is Blues to the core...the kind of stuff that has been pouring out of jukes, roadhouses, clubs, bars and dives every weekend since the blues began (pretty much). Not unlike the DC based Nighthawks, these guys have a deep love for the blues in all forms and give 100%, whether playing for a small club or at a huge festival. Their years on the road, while not making them rich, has honed their skills and their ability to read the crowd, to a razor sharpness. Having had the pleasure of seeing the band perform live, I found their Twentieth Anniversary compilation to be everything I expected and then some. Raven is as sharp as ever on guitars and his vocals are smooth as a well-aged bourbon. The four harmonica players represented are among the best in the business, the rhythm sections are tight and right on the money and

Steve Jones`

My Life - Twentieth Anniversary
My Life—Twentieth Anniversary
Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
Nevermore Records
16 tracks/65 minutes

On any given weekend if had to pick one band in our area to go listen to I would track down where Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys (CSABs) are playing and go out there and sit down with them to listen to them for some blues done the way they are supposed to be. This CD celebrates 20 years in the life of the best blues band in the Mid West. Rooted deeply in the sound of old school Chicago blues and based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Reverend (Richard) Raven has spent the last two decades honing a sound that is unique, sublime and enticing. The vocals and instrumental work is never over blown or over done. The solos are tasteful and authentic. The band knows what everyone is supposed to do and does it. No one steps on each other’s toes and everyone works to make the sound better.
In 1993 Chief Raven got out the Navy and supplemented his separation pay with gigs in Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s Fox Valley area. He honed his sound as he replaced the 16 year old wunderkind Scott Sharrard with the Blues Disciples. He worked on his chops and tried to avoid getting his head cut off by special guests like Perry Weber, Billy Flynn and Mel Ford. The Chief then ventured out on his own a bit with Jimmy Rogers’ harp man Madison Slim. Slim was still touring with Rogers so the work with Slim was a side project for both the Rev and Slim.
When Rogers passed away the CSABs were born 20 years ago in a South Side of Milwaukee tavern called Jim Dandy’s. Larry “The Legend” Taylor was on drums. They were playing in a country bar but when George Stancell walked in with a gold fur coat and sang with abandon and Slim killed them with his sad and blue harp solo and the band began it’s trek across the Cheese Curd Circuit of the upper Mid West.
Lamont Cranston helped get them noticed and the crowds grew and grew. They worked their way up to playing Buddy Guy’s Legends and opening for B.B. King at the Surf Ballroom. They tour the Mid West and South East with annual tours to the Virgin Islands and now Jamaica. From a poor kid on the South Side of Chicago hanging out at the Checkerboard Lounge to today, the Rev never dreamed he would get this far. A half dozen CDs, many awards and packed houses wherever they go are the norm now. Life is good and the Rev is thankful for his hard won success.
The bands have changed over the years. Cadillac Pete Rahn played harp with the Rev after they met on Bourbon Street with Bryan Lee at the Old Absinthe Bar. Madison Slim was from Jimmy Rogers and the Legendary Blues Band. Benny Rickun was a harp protégé of Mid west harmonica legend Jim Liban and he and the Rev spent time together when Slim moved south. Big Al Groth played sax with the CSABs after the Rev met him with Bobby Sellers in the Rhythm Dawgs in Kenosha, WI playing that old style honking sound. His current harp cohort is westside Andy Linderman who he met when Andy was with Paul Black and Flip Kings. They tour today joined at the hip with the swinging-est and coolest sound on the circuit. Each of the players added their talents to the band and are represented on this CD.
Piano and organ players also came and went in the band. Ron Kovach, Danny “Pork Chop” Moore, and Mickey Larson have each spent time playing with the Rev and appear here. Jimmy Voegeli also makes a special appearance. On bass are Andre Maritato, Brad Bull and his long time bass man PT Pedersen. Vic Span, Spencer Panosh, Bobby Lee Sellers Jr., and now Spencer’s brother Craig Panosh have played drums for the CSABs. Jeff Roberts appears on rhythm guitar on a couple of tracks. Each has brought their enormous talents to the band and this CD.
All the songs were written by Rev Raven who produced the album with help from Steve Hamilton. The first three tracks with Cadillac Pete are completely remixed and sound fresh. Track 4 with Madison Slim has never been on a CD before. The stuff with Benny is on tracks 5 through 10 and Andy is featured on tracks 13 through 16. Moore is featured on tracks 6, 7 and 9 through 16. While these songs all appeared on other CDs with Benny, Andy and Pork Chop, tracks 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 are brand new versions of the songs for us to enjoy.
“Handyman’ opens the set. A long-time staple of the Rev’s shows, this is a sweet and bouncy little shuffle with some dirty killer harp from Pete. He gets the first solo and then the Rev lays out a tasteful and restrained solo of his own. “Bee Hive Baby” and “Creature of Habit” also feature Cadillac Pete. The former has a driving beat and the Rev’s vocals are sublime. The solos are Pete and then the Rev with some chicken scratching thrown in for good measure. The latter is a nice jump blues with Pete and Rev trading off solos again. “Bad Little Girls” is an older recording that was never released before. Madison Slim greases up his harp and the Rev delivers the lyrics in his ever-captivating baritone style. Slim takes the lead first and blows a mean solo and then the Rev rings clear with his own and takes us home.
The “Rickun Era” songs are next. “I Want To Love You” starts us off with a winner with a driving beat. “Once Women Start Talking” is another CSAB standard his fans have all grown to love that is well done here, too. It’s got a rumba sort of beat and just a great vibe to it. “My Life” is another Rev Raven classis. It begins with a nod to his sailor days, “I’ve been around this world, I’ve sailed the seven seas,” as the Rev embarks on a tune where he searched for the woman of his dreams. Danny Moore blazes on the ivories and Benny is quite effective on the harp, but the Rev sells one with his slick vocals and guitar. “Here Comes My Baby” is another rumba-styled tune with Jimmy Voegeli coming in for some pretty organ work. The Rev stings with his big time guitar solo and overall work here. “Praying For A Princess” is a jumping cut that Benny launches with abandon. He, the Rev and Moore once again blaze as this song goes 100 mph with reckless abandon for a very fun ride. “Big Bee” is classic CSABs, a take off of Slim Harpo’s “King Bee.” Distorted vocals dirty this up nicely and the big harp sound from Rickun also makes this one special.
“Looking For Love” and ”Slow Burn” are the two saxophone pieces with Big Al. The sax is awesome on both and Pork Chops piano interplay with him is also spectacular. The Rev jumps and jives with his guitar and vocal work as the boogie woogie of “looking For Love” unfolds. “Slow Burn” is a mid tempo piece strident guitar and the sax and organ adding a lot to the mix.
The last four cuts are the Westside Andy tracks. “Someday When I’m Dead and Gone” is a blues shouter tune as Andy’s harp responds to the Rev’s vocal calls. Andy plays some wicked harp to complement the well-paced and strident guitar. They take things way down with the slow blues of “I Can Do You Right” where the guitar, harp and organ all take us to church. The rumba returns with “She’s Moving On,” with a testimonial that the Rev testifies to us about how his heart was torn out by that woman in red Ferragamo pumps. This is another staple of his fine live shows that his fans (and I) love. All good things must come to end and so does this great CD. “I’m Your Honeyboy” is a swinging jump blues with Danny Moore on piano and Jimmy Voegeli delivering backing vocals. Andy’s harp work is spectacular here once again. The Rev’s guitar takes a long solo to take us home as he, Andy and Pork Chop help him fade into the sunset. Wonderful stuff!
What can I say? This is some great stuff to commemorate 20 years of some of the blues worlds best music from one of my all time favorite artists and his band. As I said earlier, this is blues the way blues were meant to be played. Run do not walk, and go buy this one NOW! You will not regret it!
Reviewed by Commander Steve Jones (AKA “The Skipper”)

American Blues Scene

Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys Nail It On ‘My Life
The blues took an interesting leap in the 1960s, quickly going from traditional black American artists to the Rolling Stones and their straight blues covers, to The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, who moved the blues needle right into Cream, who used the blues to segue into manic jams.

Before the 1960s ended, Led Zeppelin would release its debut album, and the blues was officially something almost completely different than it had been at the start of the decade. In the span of a decade, the blues became completely reinvented, its limits pushed to something very different from its origins. Those 1960s bands had the swagger of the blues, but it’s questionable to what extent Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, or any of the Kings might have recognized their music. Boundaries had been pushed and the blues exploded into something completely new and different from what it had been.

But what if it hadn’t changed? That question is answered by Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys. My Life is a blues album that sounds like it could have come out of the mid-1960s. It’s what the blues might have been had it not have become a departure point for acrobatic musicianship, breakneck tempos, and often-ridiculous lyrics.

My Life is a band revisiting its catalog. Reverend Raven takes original songs from his band’s four studio albums and uses various lineups to reinterpret the tracks. If you’re not familiar with Reverend Raven’s work, it’s a great and fun way to easily cover a lot of ground. The album plays like a live show. Reverend Raven is the common thread, providing guitar and laid-back vocals.

The laid-back vibe is what separates the album from so much of that later 60s blues rock. The sound is reminiscent of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, with lots of impressive harmonica work and guitar solos that show flash, but that don’t overpower the songs.

The songs represent a survey of the blues. “Handyman,” the lead-off track is jazzy, featuring lots of impossibly clean guitar. “Creature of Habit” is a bluesier rockabilly take on “Stray Cat Strut.” “I Can Do You Right” is a slow blues with a huge organ sound that will make you feel like it’s Sunday. “My Life” is pure Elmore James. But where The Paul Butterfield Blues Band pushed that classic riff to its limits on “Look Over Yonder Wall,” Reverend Raven lets it breathe.

Lots of incredible music came out of the 1960s blues revival. But the time was so fertile, and creativity was so strong, that no one really dwelt in the sounds. Instead, artists built and built and built. My Life captures a moment that never was, or at least wasn’t long enough, in a fun, interesting way. It’s an album that’s ahead of its time by staying behind the times.

My Life – Twentieth Anniversary – Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
Label: Nevermore Records
Tracks: 16
Running Time: 65 Minutes