In a previous career, Albert Castiglia was a bona fide Hoodoo Man. A Miamian since the age of 5, Castiglia got his comeuppance at a '97 audition for Junior Wells' lead guitar slot, staying on with the band after Wells' death the following year, going solo in 2002 with his debut, Burn. In his live performances, Castiglia introduces Wells' “Somebody Done Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man” by admitting that he was working in a welfare office in Florida when Wells called him, telling the young guitarist “meet me in Chicago in three days. Now I'm here.”
For his seventh album, Up All Night, Castiglia enlisted the help of slide guitarist Sonny Landreth and harpist Johnny Sansone with producer Mike Zito helping out on guitar and vocals as well.
Castiglia wrote it, but that's Sonny Landreth's unmistakable slide up front on “95 South,” a wiggly ode to road dawgin' with Landreth pinning the pedal to the floor outrunning a howlin' hurricane on a breakneck haul from D.C. to Castiglia's South Florida home. “Made it back in 17 hours/back in the land of sun and flowers/in a couple of days I'll be ready for another run,” Castiglia promises.
Live, Castiglia acknowledges his royal influences, the four Kings: “Freddie, B.B, Albert, and Burger.” He taps Freddie for the slow burn on the Mike Zito composition “Quit Your Bitchin'," a workin' man's lament about being piled on by both wife and mother-in-law: “Your mother's just as bad,” Castiglia complains after wifey has already raked him over the coals, and then mom-in-law takes over: “She never liked me at all/ the old bat's got a screw loose/ talkin' bout me like a dawg.”
Castiglia has an aggressive guitar attack on most of his stuff, but he really leans on it with his arrangement of Luther “Snake Boy” Johnson's “Woman Don't Lie.” While Johnson's original was rough and gritty, a sludgy clang crawling along a dirt-floored juke joint, Castiglia's jumps up and bites you in the ass with a sting like an enraged scorpion, the guitarist sounding like somebody plugged him into a 220 socket and doused him with a bucket of water.
The Castiglia original “Chase Her Around The House” sounds like a Fabulous T-Birds tune, a hard rockin', rough and tumble ode to getting down. “I'm a big ole cat, she's a little bitty mouse,” Castiglia says, channeling Kim Wilson on vocals: “I'm gonna chase her around the house/ when I catch her we'll be lovin' 'till we're sweaty and we're black and blue.”
“You Got Me To That Place” is the only acoustic cut, but just because it's unplugged doesn't mean Castiglia backs off the intensity. Backed with Zito's harmonizing vocal, it's a big foot stomper that sounds like it fell off a Delta back porch, Castiglia fingerpickin' it clean and pretty while still managing to sound low down and sinister.
Castiglia is a superb guitarist and witty composer who deserves a higher profile. This all-nighter ought to help, but fans of raw, rockin' blues guitar versatility ought to be seriously studyin' on him to complete their bluesology degrees.