New Blues News – 10/11/2017
James Armstrong – Blues Been Good To Me (Catfood): Singer/songwriter/guitarist James Armstrong has been recording for twenty-five years and has truly had to overcome personal health and emotional injuries when he was attacked and cut severely by an intruder. There was, at the time, significant concern about his regaining the ability to play again at all. He does play well, though he has never fully returned to his earlier form. Still, it is hard not to recognize and appreciate his style. Armstrong wrote or co-wrote all but two songs on the disc – “Addicted To Love” and “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”. His performance is more laid back and he sounds weary, but he does have some shining moments as well. Backing musicians include Matt Murdick (keys), Johnny McGhee (rhythm guitar), Darryl Wright (bass on all but one song when Will Jackson takes over), Andrew Thomas (drums), and John Kattke (B3) with Bryan Fritz, Corey Fritz and Kasimu Taylor on horns. Johnny Rawls and Mary Jo Curry provide backing vocals on one song and Amy Slack and Kimberlie Helton on others. Click here to listen to a teaser from the title song. The disc will be released on in a few weeks.
Al Basile – Quiet Money (Sweetstop): Cornet/trumpet player/composer/singer Al Basile began his career in 1973, being hired by Duke Robillard as Roomful Of Blues’ first trumpet player. During his tenure, Basile played with such blues and jazz greats as Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, Red Prysock, Helen Humes, Joe Turner, and Johnny Shines. He left the band to focus on his own writing, playing and singing, but frequently hooked back up with songs that were recorded by Roomful and Robillard on his own. In fact, Robillard produced and plays on this disc which features thirteen new Basile compositions. The band is filled out by Mark Teixeira (drums), Brad Hallen (bass), Bruce Bears (piano), Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse (trumpet), Rick Lataille (tenor sax) and Doug James (tenor, bari sax). The music is absolutely solid throughout and the songs are well put together. The weak spot is Basile’s singing. His lyrics are straightforward and tell a good tale, but I’m sad to say his vocals are plain and frequently just don’t “sell the songs” well. But it’s best that you check it out yourself! Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Chris Daniels & The Kings w/ Freddi Gowdy – Blues With Horns, Vol. 1 (Moon Voyage): Chris Daniels, leader/singer/guitarist/composer has a great affinity for funky / party music and leads a band that is deep down in the same groove he is! On this set, he wrote the opening and closing songs just the way they ought to be: “Sweet Memphis” gets your feet out from under your seat and definitely puts a glide in your slide; “Rain Check” mellows you out and reminds you that even if you don’t realize it, you’re going to take a “Rain Check” and head back home. Vocalist Freddi Gowdy sings some serious soul music and co-wrote “Get Up Off The Funk” with Larry Williams. The rest of the set is all covers, but this party is determined that you will be dancing on your feet or under your seat! Covers include “Fried Food / Hard Liquor”, Sam Cooke’s “Soothe Me Baby”, Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Baby’s In Love With The Radio”, Elvin Bishop, et.al.’s “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” and Johnny Watson’s “You Can Stay But That Noise Must Go”, among others. Jack, if this stuff doesn’t get your toes tapping, you MUST be dead! What’s left to say? This is a certified “Professor Bebop Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here to listen to samples of the tracks on this disc!
Steve Cropper & Lou Marini & The Original Blues Brothers Band – The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black (Severn): Here’s an idea whose time has surely come! Though as far as I know, no one is just being released from jail, Steve Cropper* (guitar) and Lou Marini* (sax) are putting the band back together! They’ve gathered John Tropea (guitar), Eric Udal (bass), Lee Finkelstein (drums), Leon Pendaris (organ), Rusty Cloud (various keys), Steve Howard (trumpet), Larry Farrell (trombone), Bobby Hardin (vocals), Tommy McDonnell (vocals, harmonica) and Rob Paparozzi (vocals, harmonica), none of whom were in the band, but who’s looking? There are also special guests: Eddie Floyd, Joe Louis Walker, Matt “Guitar” Murphy*, Paul Shaffer*, Dr. John, Joe Morton, Baron Raymond, Birch Johnson*, Tom Malone* and David Spinozza. (Starred* players actually were part of the band at some point). What about the performances? Great! The titles range from blues (“Baby, What You Want Me To Do”; “Got My Mojo Working”) to soul (“Itch And Scratch”, “Sex Machine”, “Qualified”), real oldies (“Your Feet’s Too Big”) and some new songs (“Blues In My Feet”, “The Last Shade Of Blue Is Black”). You know you have to check it out. It’s fun and funky and you don’t have to listen to “Rawhide”! Click here for a view of rehearsals and slices of the songs on this disc.
Kim Wilson – Blues And Boogie, Volume 1 (Severn): Kim Wilson is at the peak of his powers on this disc – great vocals, terrific harp, four great new original songs! Otherwise, he covers songs from Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Maceo, Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Elmore James and others with total command. His supporting musicians are guitarists Big Jon Atkinson, Bob Welsh, Nathan James, Billy Flynn, and Danny Michel in various combinations or on their own; Troy Sandow, Big Jon Atkinson, Kadar Roy, Larry Taylor and Nathan James sharing bass duties; Malachi Johnson, Richard Innes, or Marty Dodson (drums); Barrelhouse Chuck (piano); and Jonny Viau (horns). This is a certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid Of Cracks”! The blues at its best! Click here and scroll down to listen to a sample track.