The Volker Strifler Band CD

May 5, 2004

By Rolf Olmsted

Volker Strifler?s 2002 second CD, The Volker Strifler Band (Blue Rock?it Records), is a strong CD even better than his first one Full Moon.  Volker?s fine songwriting is on full display, and his singing has gotten smoother and more expressive.  The really big step up is the guitar playing; this CD shows the increase in Volker?s mastery.  The change is the sweaty feel of roadhouses, the lowdown blues, of rhythm variation, and a man moving beyond influences to his own inner style.

Blues, jazz, roadhouse, Brit blues and swing influences have been welded into a style that handles all kinds of material and settings.  The range of songs he writes go from loping shuffles to Doo-wop to ecstatic love songs.  Control and technique drip off the songs, issuing forth from Volker?s voice and guitar.

Opening with a melodic ringing riff somewhere outside European harmony, Volker?s slide masterpiece "In Your Arms" is a showpiece of original blues.  Volker?s talent keeps this from sounding like something you?ve heard before.

"The morning sun?s nearly on the rise
Me and my baby made love all night

I see her face through my sleepy eyes
I get out of bed and everything?s all right

I finally found where my heart belongs
I finally found where my heart belongs
It?s in your arms ?cause angels can?t be wrong

Mama said when you?re feeling blue
Getcha sweet girl and hold her close to you

I finally found where my heart belongs
I finally found where my heart belongs
It?s in your arms ?cause angels can?t be wrong"

All through this his slide rings and chimes and goes to peaks as he sings:  "And it?s in your arms ?cause angels can?t be wrong"

The CD then goes into the swinging song ?All Mighty Dollar" the lyrics of which would sound good from Mose Allison.  The guitar part sounds like a sunny day on a front porch with a beer and a big F-hole guitar.  Stepping off a little swaying footwork on the porch boards in a warm breeze, just enjoying the day:  "Ain?t gonna worry about the almighty dollar ?cause that kind of thing ain?t for me!"

The sixth song "Love" is a driving discordant meditation on "is this love?"--- its costs and payments. Volker blues-bop at it?s best.  "If it?s true that love is just a game we play, someone dealt me quite a hand."

"I Smell Trouble" is one of those good soulful shuffle blues.  "Worries and trouble, they just won?t let me be."

"JPB" is bop in a Texas roadhouse with Volker?s knowledge of the fretboard supreme.  A cartwheel through the scales and up and down the dance floor.

With "Movin? On" Volker really goes to the roadhouse and honking the guitar, making the dancers jump and down. "I?m movin? on, moo-oo-oo-vin? on, I gotta get out of here."  Live, this one makes them shout out.

"Heard It On The News" is another fine swinging tune with that T-Bone feel.  Volker gets up and down the guitar neck with lightning speed.

The eleventh song on the CD is one that should never have been made.  I didn?t like the original Three Dog Night version of "Never Been To Spain" and this isn?t any better.  Sentimental pseudo-hip pop, the cloying meaningless lyric just won?t work and this reading of the tune can?t save it.  Claus Bubik sings.

Things immediately get better with Volker?s chugging song "Hell and Purgatory."  Another fine survival tune.

"So don?t you tell me about
Your hell and purgatory,
I?ve seen it all-
It?s the story of my life.
The story of my life."

A good tenor sax solo complements Volker?s songwriting and bop/funk rhythm guitar.

The last song "True Blue Thing" is a doo-wop blues ballad with soul minor chord changes in the second half of the verse.  Over an organ vamp Volker turns in a hot blues drenched solo. Slow dance with your baby!

This is one heck of a record and has gained Volker a lot of notice.  Except for the one song, there?s fine songwriting and vocals, and that stellar guitar.  Volker?s so far away from most of the hot guitarists today.  He solos to some heavenly place where Clio the muse of music is waiting.  This CD is available on Amazon and at other outlets.  Recommended.

[Added 12-15-04 by the webmaster:  Read an Interview with Volker HERE.]

...Rolf Olmsted

Rolf Olmsted was born on the banks of the Mississippi River and had a dog and played his father's mandolin. He was exposed to the blues at an early age which accounts for it. Among his accomplishments are reproduction, a collection of cheap guitars, and computer semi-literacy. He's guilty of attempted guitar and mandolin playing.