Although the answer was quite apparent, the first few times I listened to "THAT'S ALRIGHT", by BROTHERS N' BLUES, I found myself looking for words to describe the type of music I was listening to. Honestly, the lyrics had thrown me for a loop. Was this 'gospel music' that had me in this marvelous groove? Could 'spiritual music' have me moving the way I am? Is 'world music' really this cool? Yet, during this whole internal, mental dispute of mine, I knew I was listening to the blues. Interesting!
Writing lyrics about real life situations and then putting those lyrics to music is, of course, what a song is all about. However, BROTHERS N' BLUES don't end it there. In their songs, which are all originals, they find closure. Not only do they write and sing about their life's situations, but they write and sing about how they cope, relate, understand and solve them. And this is all done while musically playing some very good and very serious blues.
The band consists of MARK SELLS on lead and rhythm guitar, lead vocals and author of all tracks; BILL LAYVA on bass guitar and background vocals; MIKE RINCON on Hammond B3 and Korg CX3; DAVID URQUIDI on saxophone; ANDY MENDOZA on drums and background vocals; RON VILLARREAL on drums.
On the track titled "CALLING MY LORD", Mark sings of having his children taken away. His hurt is not only felt in the lyrics, but in his voice as well. To the listener, there can absolutely be no doubt as to if this was a real life experience or not. You can feel the answer. Marks heart and soul aren't shedding all the tears, his guitar does lots of crying too. Lyrically, musically and emotionally this is a masterful track.
The title track, "THAT'S ALRIGHT", has a "Johnny B. Goode", fifties rockin' blues, sound to it. Of course there's lots of ripping guitar by MARK and hot sax solos by DAVID. "DON'T UNDERSTAND IT" features everyone right on the mark, but this one is really about the keyboards. MIKE will have you thinking he's got four hands on this one.
On all of the above tracks, as well as the other two - "NEED YOUR LOVE" and "I'M LOOKIN' UP", in spite of the many references to the Lord, His solace, His pacification and His guidance, not once did I consider this a CD to be a product of religion or a work of prophecy. On the other hand, what I did find this to be was one heck of an uplifting blues CD.
Unfortunately, this CD is only and EP containing five tracks. I hope to someday see BROTHERS N' BLUES put out a full length product containing more excellent material similar to what's on "THAT'S ALRIGHT".
You can visit Brothers n' Blues on the web at: www.brothersnblues.com/
According to HOWARD AND THE EL34s very own description, the type of music they play is "high energy blues from Detroit City". Trust me when I tell you this, that explanation is not necessary. There is absolutely no one out there that could possibly say their music is anything else. Although the few of these they did were quite excellent, this is not your typical shuffle and ballad blues band.
The EL34s consist of: HOWARD GLAZER on electric guitar, acoustic resonator guitar and vocals; BOB GOODWIN on bass; and CHARLES STUART. Assisting on background vocals are MAGGIE MCCABE and STEPHANIE JOHNSON.
Typically, so called high energy blues bands are rockers in disguise. Most of them lose me with that rock music they call blues. However, one of the things that impressed me with this band is that although they do live up to the high energy moniker, they stay true to the blues genre. It's a good mix and an equally good accomplishment.
The closest to the edge that this band came was with a Hendrix-like song called "GOING TO CHICAGO". HOWARD is all over the guitar on this one. However, on the very next track he comes back with one of my favorite songs on the CD, "SAD SITUATION". This is my kind of blues. On this track, Howard puts his heart and soul into the vocals as well as into the guitar. These two extremely different, songs are a lesson in versatility.
On the title track, "BROWN PAPER BAG" HOWARD'S slide playing gets put on display. It sounds as if he's sliding over the strings and bending them all in the same motion. This is a hot one. There's lots more good slide on what I call the 'dance song' of the CD, "DON'T LOVE YOU NO MORE". The slight country swing to it made it a real mover, while the ladies on background made it a good one to sing along with.
"MEAN HEARTED WOMAN" captures the band in jam mode, a tight jam mode at that. Musically, this is the cream of the crop of this CD's thirteen tracks. Bass and drum solos, along with solid play throughout this, put the rhythm sections talent on display.
Some of the best true blues guitar on "BROWN PAPER BAG" can be heard on "THE DOGS THEY BARK AT MIDNIGHT". Howard tears it up badly on this track. With all the bending and twisting he does on this one, when he was done the strings on his guitar had to look like Raggedy Ann's hair on a humid day. PHEW! By far the best song on this CD.
The fact that all thirteen songs are HOWARD GLAZER originals deserves mention. It's so common these days, especially on a debut CD, for a band to mix in a few covers - more often than not, over done covers. From the pen to the play list, this was a nicely done project.
You can visit Howard Glazer and the EL 34's on the web at: www.howardglazer.com/