MIKE METTALIA & MIDNIGHT SHIFT Midnight
Sun Lost World Music - LWM 022
On their third CD, southeastern Pennsylvania–based Mike Mettalia & Midnight
Shift lay heavier on the rockabilly and pulsating Memphis groove than they do their familiar Chicago shuffles. The influence
likely comes from the hallowed confines of the legendary Sun Studios, where half of this album was recorded. The band has
always had a knack for mastering the blues bump, but here the energy is unbridled and borrows the best traits of pure, southern
musical abandon. Frontman
Mike Mettalia’s harp is still planted near the front of the mix, his style more Carey Bell cool than Little Walter sass.
Vocally, Mettalia has a stoic, Kim Wilson–esque edge that gives each track a hard-nosed foundation. Guitarist Mike McMillan
is particularly effective on this album, as the material lends itself to his twanged-out, overdriven lead style. The songs
on the disc are well-selected. In addition to standout originals like the Chuck Berry–ripped Calabash and The
796, which sounds like it could have been one of Howlin’ Wolf’s early Sun Records cuts, are covers like John
Nemeth’s Magic Touch and Hank Williams’ The Blues Come Around, turning that track’s original
country shuffle into a jump blues, Tennessee Three–inspired rave-up. The Track features a duet between Mettalia
and vocalist April Mae of New Jersey roots trio April Mae and the Junebugs. Other featured guests include longtime band friend
Steve Guyger on harp and ex-Junior Wells/Son Seals keyboardist Chicago Carl Snyder. A trip south gets these Pennsylvania boys to shake up their sound with a decidedly Dixie-themed
—Living Blues Magazine - Mark Uricheck
By Peter "Blewzzman"
Lauro © September 2012
Shift bills themselves as a "Rhythm, Rockin, Boogie" band and indeed they are all that. However, on "Midnight
Sun" - their third release - they are a hell of a lot more. Besides the songs you'll be boogieing to, their are others
that you can swing dance to, line dance to and maybe even square dance to. Some may cause Beethoven to consider rolling over
and others could possibly make you shout out exclamations such as "Great Balls Of Fire!" or "Yee Haw!".
And yet they never really wander from their genre - the blues.This very diversified, very talented and very good band consists of: Mike
Mettalia on vocals & harp; Mike McMillan on electric & acoustic guitars, maracas and
backup vocals; Paul Pluta on electric & standup bass and backup vocals; and Tim Smith on drums. Special guest include
Jimmy Cavallo on sax & vocals; Steve Guyger and Mikey Junior on harp; April Mae on vocals; Chicago Carl Snyder and Dan
McKinney on keyboards; and Jim Callan on pedal steel guitar."Calabash", one of nine originals, immediately put me in motion. Imagine Chuck Berry
and Jerry Lee Lewis in an all out free for all with a smokin' harp player doing his best to blow them both away. Get my point?
Rock 'n' Roll, baby. The whole band, with the addition of Carl on piano, are all over this one.I'm on my sixth play of this
song and during the first five all I did was sit here with a big smile on my face. Thank you, April. Listening to your voice
- even as it sings about when "The Blues Come Around" - is a totally pleasing experience. Together,
April Mae and Mike Mettalia nailed this duet. Throw in a tight rhythm groove, a few choice guitar leads and monster
job on pedal steel by Jim and I think even Hank Williams himself would have enjoyed listening to the way his song was covered
title track placed me on the set of a mystery movie. It gave me the feeling of being on one of those dark, foggy, cobble stone
streets where you see a trench coated private eye with a fedora, leaning against a pole that's casting off the dim light of
a "Midnight Sun". Instead of a saxophone, it's Mettalia's singing; McMillan's guitar; and April Mae's
soft backup vocals that create the sultry, steamy effect. Great stuff.Generally I'm bothered when a really good song is too short but thank
goodness this one was. After it's two minute run, "Mama's Little Baby" had me exhausted.....
and that was just from listening. Fierce rhythm, ripping guitar and vocals faster than a tongue
twister had this train totally running away. Phew!"Leave Married Women Alone" - it's not just the song
title but good advice as well. This is Jimmy Cavalllo's song and hearing him sing it makes me think he should have followed
his own advice. As a matter of fact, the pace these guys are keeping actually sounds like they're
running from a furious husband. More great rhythm and of course, with Jimmy featured, vocals and sax highlight this one."Built For Speed" could easily be Midnight Shift's logo - these guys are relentless. On this one Mike Mettalia shares the harp playing with the completely capable Mikey Junior. Knowing
Mikey's style, he probably volunteered as soon as he heard the song title. This is a match of musical maniacs.The closing track, "What
Have I Done" was recorded live at the Lehigh River Blues Jam - an annual blues festival in Catasauqua, PA,
that's put on by the Second Story Blues Society. It features smokin' harp by not just one, but
two extraordinary masters of the instrument - Mike Mettalia and Steve Guyger, also on vocals.Other tracks on "Midnight
Sun" include: "Work Don't Work", "Magic Touch", "The 796", "Sun
Record Sleeve", "Love Reaction", "Heartsick", and "Cheat You Fair".As
I looked back to a review I did of Midnight Shift's last CD - "Rhythm Rockin' Boogie" - a line
I wrote jumped right out at me. I had stated that "If there was ever a CD you bought just on my recommendation, let it
be this one". To that I'd now like to add this.....Ditto! You can do just that by going
to www.mnightshift.com. When
you go, please tell the guys the Blewzzman sent you.
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
Rhythm Rockin' Boogie is a record steeped in the 1950's Chicago tradition, filled with tongue in-cheek songwriting
and hot guitar/harmonica exchange-recalling a similar winning formula that Little Charlie and the Nightcats mined to perfection
for years. The band's crafty melodies, effortless rhythms and razor sharp wit help define a record that buzzes with
vintage Chicago cool. Mark Uricheck/Living Blues Magazine
If there was ever a CD you bought just on my recommendation let it be this one. Peter "Blewzzman"
Wow! I was blown off my seat when I listened to this CD!
This is one of those rare collections of music where you want to put on your dancing shoes and let it all hang out!
I give this Two Thumbs Up!! Michael Mckenna/PA Music Scene
Rhythm Rockin' Boogie
is another stellar set from Midnight Shift and hopefully one that will allow them to expand beyond that Lehigh Valley region.
The closing instrumental, "Back Off" gives Mettalia a chance to blow the back off his harmonica. Graham Clarke/
Slap it on and Party! Marc Bristol/Blue Suede News
The largely band penned-penned tunes infuse the best elements of rockabilly, rock and blues that would
keep any dance floor bopping until it drops. Fans of an upbeat good time can't go wrong with working this "Midnight
Shift". Greg Szalony/Blues Blast Magazine.
been five years since Midnight Shift's inaugural CD and the wait was well worth it. All in all this is a fabulous effort
of which the band can be proud of. Scott Davis/Lehigh Valley Blues Network
harmonica teamwork by Guyger and Mettalia is nothing short of mesmerizing. The harpwork alone is enough to buy the disc,
but the playing overall is flawless, the arrangements are superb and the disc is nothing short of top notch. Bill
Wilson/Billtown Blues Association
With Rhythm Rockin' Boogie The Midnight Shift
has upped it's productivity of songs filling this disc and taken the quality to world class levels. You can't outsource
blues like this. Roger and Margaret White/Big City Rhythm and Blues Magazine