Spin Doctors: If The River Was Whiskey

Your roots are showing.

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

When a major act like Spin Doctors, with international hits under their belt, revisit their minimal New York blues roots – and with the impromptu simplicity of Chess or Sun recordings of the 1950s – the band are really working without a net.

Modern technology makes for sharper clarity, but clarity takes no prisoners. By coming full circle, the Spin Doctors have also come to a place where only three things count: the rhythm section keeps raw time to support good, muscular songs, of which there’s no shortage; some tough vocals, and Chris Barron gives great gravel; and one hell of a guitar player.

This is where the project falls down. Eric Schenkman’s guitar somehow doesn’t cut it. He isn’t Keith Richards, Scotty Moore, Hubert Sumlin or Elmore James. It’s not that he lacks the chops – he just fails to find the creative imagination to transform a tried and true format into real old-school excitement.