Over the years, I have made it a personal preference of mine - musically - to avoid songs and groups with words such as 'phat' and 'noise' in their titles or names, especially when the word is spelled 'noiz'. Call it narrow minded, un-yielding, conservative or whatever you like, but I prefer the word logical. In a word association exercise, these are not words I'd utter if the category was blues music. Therefore, you could imagine my dismay when I received a CD to review and the bands name was THE PHAT NOIZ BLUE BAND. Yikes!
Fearing this to be some Hip-Hop, Nu-Blues, Ultra-Techno product some of these modern, so called blues bands call the blues, I tossed it in a corner. And there it sat, and sat, and sat. Then one day, feeling a little guilt and realizing I was possibly being unfair to these artists, if that's indeed what they were, I decided to give "WET MY BEAK" a listen. Well, Lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised and a lesson was learned. Here I now sit, with a smile on my face as I listen to, and write this review of this very good CD by the very talented PHAT NOIZ BLUES BAND.
The band is: ALVIN JETT, guitar and vocals; MATT DAVIS, bass; JEREMY WEST, drums; FRANK BAUER, sax; with guest MARCUS STEINMANN on keyboards.
Very impressively, all of the ten tracks - which delightfully range from jazzy, funky, R&B, and soul to some serious straight up blues - are all the bands originals.
Although there truly weren't any disappointing tracks, I was of course, more impressed with the more serious blues entities. On "BLUESMAN", aside from being a real hot number with some serious sax highlights, Alvin's lyrics describe some of what it's like being a Bluesman. He truthfully states that "early to bed and early to rise, makes a young man healthy, wealthy and wise". He then continues to say "that's what they say but I don't know if it's true, that a real tall order when you're out paying your dues".
"YOUR BLUES AIN'T LIKE MINE", is clearly my personal favorite. Alvin sings his heart out on this one and he does so like it's supposed to be done. It's a very slow, soulful ballad and he nails it. Once again, Frank blows some scorching sax with a tone unlike anything I've ever heard before and Alvin's guitar work on this one is right up there with his vocals. This has to be one of their most requested songs, especially by the slow dancers. I could listen to stuff like this all night long.
On "HOW LONG", Alvin finds himself wondering aloud, just how long the world's tragedies, injustices, violence and other related negativity is going to continue. Unfortunately Alvin, longer than you and I. Nevertheless, this is one serious track, not just lyrically, but musically as well. Once again, Frank shines on sax.
At the bands website - www.phatnoiz.com - I recently read that the band will soon be going into the studio for their next CD. Gentlemen, that one will not get tossed into a corner - that's a promise.
I've been writing reviews long enough now that I am starting to receive "new releases" from artists whose prior CD's I've already had the privilege of reviewing. I guess that's a good thing for all of us. It is with great pleasure that I get to do this review of "BLUE STORIES", the second release by PAT PEPIN.
Although it clearly states in the CD's notes that "the stories told here are true", I know Pat Pepin well enough to know that they are - without having to read it. On "BLUE STORIES" not only will you experience Pat's wonderful vocal and musical talents, but she'll let you into her heart, her mind and her soul, as she allows you to feel some of her deepest emotions. Her original songs, complimented by very related covers, divulge her complexity as well as her humor, hardships and true life adventures.
The musicians appearing on this project with Pat, who of course does all the vocals, plays the saxophone and a little bit of bass guitar are: STEVE JONES, guitar; RICHARD HOLLIS, JONATHAN TRUMAN and PETER ELLIOT, drums; BOB COLWELL, organ and piano; SCOTT ELLIOT and GREG LINDHOLM, bass; HORST NIETNER, acoustic guitar; PETER RE, violin.
"AS LONG AS I AM MOVING" and "SOMETHING 'BOUT TRAVELING" although both covers, were obviously hand picked to go with the other stories - they fit perfectly. Either of these songs could be Pat's theme song. One is about always being on the move and the other is about traveling - particularly alone and at night. Both of these are Pepin characteristics. The first of the two is one of the livelier tracks on this CD. Scott on bass, Bob on piano and Pat on sax get into a nice jam on this one.
On one of her original tracks Pat sings about a "YEAR OF THE BLUES". It doesn't however, take too long to realize that Pat is NOT singing about 2003, the year which Congress had decreed as the official "Year of the Blues". Nope, on this song, she is actually singing about her life - from her wedding day until her first wedding anniversary - which she humorously but truthfully describes as a year of the blues. The lyrics are delightfully amusing in addition to being very soulful.
I guess after dumping that chump and losing that loser, Pat got desperate enough to resort to placing a personal ad which she explains in another original called "PERSONAL AD BLUES". This is outrageously clever. Although I don't believe she ever did find that "generous, thoughtful, hardworking, kind, smart, witty, humorous, creative, honest, handy man who will treat her like a queen and give her satisfaction guaranteed lovemaking" yet, but there is still plenty of time. The sax solos on this one are hot.
Another cover in which it sounds like she may be just a bit too familiar with the storyline is my personal all time favorite blues love song - "I'D RATHER GO BLIND". How much more can a love of someone be expressed than to tell them you'd rather go blind than to see them walk away? It can't be done. Pats soulful singing of this song and her sultry sax solos clearly make this one of the recordings highlights.
"IF I HADN'T MET YOU", another original, is an obvious tribute to an ex-boyfriend of Pat's. She is extremely thankful to him for........her learning to sing the blues.....having someone to cry over.....and other such related topics. This one has a smoking Kazoo.....that's right Kazoo, solo.
In spite of the apparent torch this product signifies, it's quite apparent that Miss Pepin hasn't lost her sense of humor. It's also very obvious that she had a good time recording "BLUE STORIES", and I'm sure you'll have an equally good time listening to them.
My first exposure to W. C. Spencer's work was when I did a review of "BLUES ON TAP", a compilation CD of member bands of the Baltimore Blues Society. Therefore, when W. C. recently asked me to give a listen to his own product, "BLUES EXPLORER", having already had a taste of his talent, It was easy for me to say yes.
The W. C. SPENCER BLUES BAND consists of W. C. SPENCER on vocals and guitar, W. C. SPENCER on harmonica, W. C. SPENCER on bass and - you guessed it - W. C. SPENCER on drums. That's right, W. C. is a virtual one man band. And he does it with absolutely none of the technical trickery of the studio. He actually does it all simultaneously - LIVE! Coming from someone who can't tap his right knee and his left foot in time, yes I am quite envious. When God was giving out musical talent, I must have been off somewhere shooting craps while W. C. kept sneaking back in the line for more.
Although eight of the twelve tracks are very well known covers such as "KANSAS CITY", WORRIED LIVE BLUES and "KEY TO THE HIGHWAY", the mastery of his presentation make them all enjoyable listening.
Interestingly enough, the first track - one of the few originals - titled "I SAID THE BLUES", is one of the better tracks. Right off the bat it has me shaking my head in amazement that this is all one person I am listening to. Had I not read that in the linear notes of the CD cover, I'd refuse to believe it. The band (said in jest) is in a real tight groove on this one. And, in all my years of hearing what every one thinks the blues is, this is the first time I have ever heard of it referred to as "a pain in the balls".
"I'M LEAVING YOU" and "WORRIED LIFE BLUES" are two more excellent tracks. Mr. Spencer's vocals are superb on both. On the first of the two, he blows me away with his blues slide guitar then on the next one he amazes me with his simultaneous harp and guitar playing.
"MEAN OLD TRAIN" of course, is your classic "harmonic sounding like a train" song and W. C. really gets that old train rollin' along at a nice pace. Like many of the other tracks on "BLUES EXPLORER", I loved this one.
In spite of my disappointment in W. C. Spencer not having a tambourine on his head and shaking it in between vocals and harmonica blowing, I thoroughly enjoyed this CD.