Half Moon Herne Hill, London
Saturday 17 May, 2008
Review by Dave Ling - Classic Rock
In the evening, Michael Katon – the boogie man from Hell, Michigan – played a rare UK gig at the Half Moon in Herne Hill. Was it worth the short bus-ride and the price of a few large vodka and Diet Cokes? Of course it was. Although we've exchanged emails and the odd phone call, I hadn't seen Katon on stage since he played the Marquee Club in Charing Cross Road; it would've been around the time he released his 'Proud To Be Loud' album in 1988. And yet with sunglasses perched on head, hair trailing way past the shoulders and what looked like the exact same leather jacket he used to wear, the guitarist/singer hadn't changed a bit. We nattered a little before the show and Michael handed me a copy of his new iTunes download set 'Bootleg Boogie'. Sticking to a three-piece format, Katon's band included Johnny 'Bee' Badanjek, the drummer of Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and veteran of tours with Edgar Winter, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Ronnie Montrose and Nils Lofgren. Suffice to say, they kicked extortionate amounts of ass.
Pulling together the likes of 'Get On The Boogie Train', 'Roadhouse 69', 'The Devil's Daughter', 'Red Moon Rising', 'Rip It Hard', 'No More Whiskey', 'On The Prowl For A Hoochie Mama', 'Bad Machine', 'Whiskey Hill', 'Motorcycle Blues', the salsa-licious 'Barbeque On My Boogie' and a slide-infused cover of the John Lee Hooker standard 'Crawling King Snake', the show ran for a finger-lickin' two hours, including just about everything I hoped to hear except 'I Ain't Ready To Go Steady' and the title cut of 'Proud To Be Loud'. Ah whatever… if and when Katon and his group return, don't miss 'em.
Dave Ling - Classic Rock
Michael Katon: Press
MICHAEL KATON Live And On The Prowl! Provogue PRD 7222 2 (2007)
It is 15 years since guitarist Michael Katon first invited us to 'Get On The Boogie Train', and on the evidence of 'Live & On The Prowl', he is still fired up. The self styled 'boogie man from Hell' – Hell, Michigan, that is – is a throw back to the hard rocking power trio's of yore. Think of the Groundhogs circa 'Split' or a kind of heavier version of say Rory Gallagher. And with a raunchy playing style, topped by some uncompromising slide playing and a rip roaring rhythm section, he clearly takes no prisoners.
Despite the emphasis on volume and crunching riffs, Katon's previous 10 cd career is as notable for its classy production values, and supreme guitar sound, elements of which permeate this down to the wire live set. 'Live & On The Prowl, is good old fashioned bone rattling, pile driving rock and roll, boogie and hard edged blues that any self respecting rock fan would slam on the player and crank up to maximum volume levels. Hell, with an opening like this, you could unhesitatingly recommend this to Motorhead fans.
And if it's often the case that an album opener strives to make an immediate overall impression then the awesome crunching riffs of 'Guitar For My Friend' and the brilliantly titled and cleverly segued 'Yeah…But We Can Boogie/Come On back To Hell' leave you in no doubt as to what you can expect. The Katon band smokes and leaves only scorched earth in its wake.
And yet there's more to Katon than heads down no nonsense boogie, as the equally big riffed 'American McMofo' suggests, as the guitar avalanche and subsequent wild slide runs punch out an angry message against growing corporatism. For the rest Katon gives his sizeable Dutch audience exactly what they want, mining every rock & roll cliche, from whiskey, women, motorbikes, and rockers on the prowl, to 'hoochie mama's', all peppered with lashing of guitar.
On 'Whiskey Hill' the trio raise hell on an impossibly hard hitting boogie , the kind of outing that ZZ Top once made their name with before they succumbed to the dubious video aids. And as this album confirms it is playing live to a howling leather jacketed club audience that really fires Michael Katon up.
He's loud and proud, offers no concessions to either contemporary music or political correctness, and boogies like hell. If this is what is termed retro rock, then crank up the amps, and rejoice in a live album that revisits the golden days of hard rock, and of course boogie!
Review by Pete Feenstra
GRTR! Best of 2007
Ten shocking Detroit-brewed songs
Terrorizing tunes from creepy acts to raise your spooky Halloween spirits
By Brett Callwood
Special to Metromix
September 24, 2008
Let’s get one thing straight here – nowhere else on the planet can do scary quite like Detroit. Those “I’m so bad I vacation in Detroit” shirts you can find in stores all over the city and its suburbs – there’s a reason. From the city that spawned Devil’s Night, Halloween is taken extremely seriously, a fact that’s reflected in much of the music the city has produced. Here are 10 songs that make Marilyn Manson sound like Justin Timberlake.
Michael Katon: “Till the Hounds of Hell Come Home”
Nobody around here plays blues rock like veteran guitarist and singer Michael Katon, currently (and appropriately) based in Hell, Michigan. He got particularly demonic on his 2006 album “Diablo Boogie (Blues Brewed in Hell)” from which this song is pulled. It’s a sexually satanic little beast of a tune, very obviously inspired by Robert Johnson. He never explains, however, whether Hell, Michigan is more or less depressing than Hell, the kingdom of the horned beast.
Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels: “Devil With a Blue Dress On”
Ryder’s devil isn’t actually a devil at all. In fact, she’s a rather beautiful woman whose only crime is to catch the legendary ‘60s Detroit rockers’ attention whilst wearing an alligator hat. She is, he says, “Not too skinny, she's not too fat, she’s a real humdinger and I like it like that.” Newsflash, Mitch: If you end up in Hell, chances are it won’t be populated with beautiful women wearing blue dresses. It’s far more likely that you’ll find Rosanne Barr there wearing only a thong.
Alice Cooper: “Welcome To My Nightmare”
Let’s face it – any feature on horror-themed songs from Detroit wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by the Coop. We’ve chosen “Welcome To My Nightmare” from the album of the same name, due to the fact that Alice never sounded so sinister and evil before or since (particularly in his hair metal-fuelled ‘80s era). When he sings, “We sweat and laugh and scream here, 'cuz life is just a dream here” it’s unclear whether he’s referring to his own psychotic nighttime imagination… or the City of Detroit.
Meatmen: “Evil In League with Satan”
There’s offensive, and then there’s the Meatmen. Fronted by the inimitable Tesco Vee, the Detroit hardcore merchants upset many in the ‘80s with hate songs about, well, pretty much everyone. They were often accused of racism, but they were actually not prejudice at all – there was nobody they didn’t detest. With this cheerful ditty, they decided to tell us that evil and Satan were in the same league. Really, guys? Who knew?
Halloween: “The Thing That Creeps”
Halloween (not to be confused with German power metal-lers Helloween) were part of the ‘80s heavy metal scene, one of Detroit’s few additions to that particular genre. They’re still soldiering on today, too, despite the fact that the hair’s a little thinner and the bellies are a little larger. The shock rockers included this song on their ‘91 album “No One Gets Out” and it featured such Byron-inspired lines as “Fires breathe from the darkness, black smoke fills the air. Warnings echo in your head, there’s something evil near” proving that they’ve spent some time on the Cass Corridor after dark.
Thrall: “Mommy and Daddy were Alien Gods”
Punk rockers Thrall were signed to Jello, the Dead Kennedy’s Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label in the ‘90s and they featured the talents of front-man Mike Hard and bassist Karen (Queen Bee) Neal, both of whom can now be found in They Never Sleep. This little gem, from ‘96’s excellent “Chemical Wedding” album, tells us that, not only were Hard’s parents aliens but alien gods, which goes some way to explaining his inhuman voice.
Gore Gore Girls: “Voodoo Doll”
With a name like the Gore Gore Girls, it would be disappointing to say the least if these seductive sexy little minxes didn’t have a song or two with a horror theme, and they didn’t let us down. This jam, from 2007’s “Get the Gore” album, is sang from the perspective of the voodoo doll itself. “Stronger than a potion baby, and my pins are shiny bright”… Where’s Raggedy Ann when you need her?
D12: “Devil’s Night”
From the album of the same name, “Devil’s Night” saw Eminem and friends exploring their sinister side with this gruesome tale about the infamous night before Halloween. Slim Shady proclaims that, “I make music to make you sick of fake music, hate music like devil worshippin’ Satan music” before Swifty McVay comes in with, “I'm a poltergeist, lyrically I'm supposed to strike” proving that rockers don’t have the monopoly on scary.
Crud: “Devil at the Wheel”
With their dark, industrial beats and even darker lyrics, Vinnie Dombroski’s Crud preach “decadence, depravity and debauchery” and so are well placed to provide a song for this feature. “Devil at the Wheel,” from the album of the same name, has the erstwhile Sponge singer telling us: “I had to make a deal with an evil man” before co-vocalist Danielle Arsenault chirps in with, “I did not want to kill you, if I can’t have you baby nobody can.” Mental note: do not cross these guys.
Rachel May and her hard drinking, fast-living band mates are Hellbound apparently, so perhaps Mitch Ryder was right after all. Quite why May thinks she’s destined for eternal agony is something of a mystery. She hasn’t murdered anyone or kicked a dog. The only thing she’s guilty of is rocking out and if that’s worthy of torment and torture at the hands of Beelzebub, then I’d better get my asbestos suit on, too.
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Bustin' Up The Joint - Live
Provogue - 1996
Visit the Official Michael Katon Website
AMG Artist Bio/Discography/CD Reviews
Review Published July 15, 2000
Track Listing This 1996 live recording is Mikael Katon's fourth release for the Netherlands based Provogue label. Provogue has a reputation for showcasing no-nonsense blues-rock artists, and Katon fits that description extremely well. Katon plays a hard mix of roadhouse rock, blues and boogie. The band consists of guitar, bass and drums. All the amps & mics must have been turned up to 10+ because the CD is loud, rough and very raunchy.
The high volume is likely how Katon achieves the powerfully jagged tone of his guitar, which often sounds as though it's on the edge of feedback, and seemingly has the abilty to sustain notes forever. Sometimes it's just straight guitar, sometimes it's slide, and occasionally some wah-wah is mixed in. Regardless of the method of delivery, however, it's all roadhouse raunch... good stuff! Vocals are gruff and not exceptionally musical. But except for a couple of isolated instances when it sounds more like he's shouting than singing, Katon's vocal style actually works well and suites his music.
There are several notable songs in this set of all Katon originals. "The Water Won't Boil" and "Lucky, Lucky, Lucky" are both slow, hard blues numbers, and are among my favorites on the disc. The guitar work on these songs is way, way down in the gutter... be careful or you might get some on you. "Road Tested" is a slide guitar number in the Elmore James tradition. "The Devil's Daughter" and "Two Angels Flyin'" can best be described as haunting ballads, and the latter features some very nice work on slide guitar. "Barbeque On My Boogie", a medium paced shuffle-blues-boogie, is another of my favorites.
Michael Katon's style is not for every blues fan. He certainly won't appeal to those who like a little sensitivity with their blues. And while I found his vocal style to be a good match in most cases, some may find his vocals to be somewhat harsh and gruff. But he does deliver his brand of blues-rock with authority, is and excellent gutiarist, and has probably the most wicked guitar tone I've ever heard. Those who are fans of blues-rock guitar and open to vocals that do not feature a powerful vibrato would likely find this CD a worthy addition to their collection.
Michael Katon RUB
True blue American roadhouse rock & roll, the kind that seldom finds its way into the real world, is a sound impervious to trends and demographics. It's the sound of a million nameless bands throwing down nightly, utilizing the signposts created by Lonnie Mack, Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top to create music for an audience steeped in barbecue and warm beer who like it rough, direct and honest. As roadhouses become sports bars and boogie bands get replaced by bad karaoke singers, our brethren in Europe keep the flag a-flying by making a cult hero out of Michigan roadhouse warrior Michael Katon. While far from a household name in America, this is actually Katon's fifth album; the wallop he brings to this outing makes it a seamless thread running back to his debut in 1986. Tracks like "Yeah. But We Can Boogie" and "Rockin' In The Promised Land" say it all in their crude barroom splendor, while titles like the opening "Bo Bo Bump," "Been There Done That," "Rock & Roll Redneck Mamma Jamma Honkin' Fool," "Attack Of Badness," "The Man From Hell," and "Cruise-Nite USA" are self-explanatory in their beyond basic message. Katon's guitar work is loud, brutal and in your face every step of the way on this record, one of the fattest I've ever heard on disc. No mere Stevie Ray wannabe, Michael Katon is a true roadhouse blues 'n' boogie man, steeped in tradition with a eye directly on the future.
Cub Koda - 1996