OK, so your a clerk working in a record store and you receive a dozen of TERRY HANCK'S new CD's "NIGHT TRAIN". Unsure as to which bin to place the CD's into, you decide the best way to figure it out is to give the CD a thorough listen. Now you should have it figured out, right? Probably not. But don't fret, you're not in the midst of a dilemma, you've just experienced musical diversification at it's best. Follow these simple directions....place a copy in the jazz bin, one more in the funk bin, one in the swing bin, two copies in the soul bin, three more in the R&B bin and the other four in the blues bin. Now you're covered
"NIGHT TRAIN" is TERRY HANCK'S third nationally released CD. On this latest effort he is joined by his co-producer, a rising star in his own right, CHRIS, "KID" ANDERSON on guitar, BUTCH COUSINS on drums, MICHAEL "FLY" BROOKS on bass, JIM PUGH on the Hammond B-3 organ and SID MORRIS on piano, with SISTA MONICA providing the background vocals and MICHELLE ROSSI as the 'party voice'. Of course, all the hot, steamy vocals and outstanding tenor sax work is all done by TERRY HANCK
The CD opens with the title track, "NIGHT TRAIN". This original is signature TERRY HANCK. It features a heavy dose of his very strong and very soulful vocals along with lots of hot and sultry sax riffs. The "KID" on guitar and SID on the piano help fan the fire on this one.
"JUNIOR'S WALK", another original is a tribute to the late and great Junior Walker. This one's full of funk and in addition to TERRY tearing it up on sax, it's highlighted by lots of great rhythm led by JIMMY on the Hammond.
"SMILIN' THROUGH MY TEARS, yet another of five originals, is a slow and soulful ballad reminiscent of something you may have enjoyed slow dancing to at your high school dance. This one's all TERRY and the KID. It's all about the sexy vocals, the sultry sax and the slow burning guitar licks.
"WISH I HAD NEVER" may very well be one of the best tracks on "NIGHT TRAIN". TERRY'S intensity is absolutely at it's peak on this one. The vocals and the sax on this track are some of the best that have ever passed through this writers ears.
"BIG BLUE DIAMONDS" is another winner. TERRY's early R&B influences are very prevalent on this one. As I sat back and listened, the image of rows of teenagers doing the stroll, as Dick Clark smilingly looked on came to mind. This is really good stuff.
"NIGHT TRAIN" closes out with the whole band in a very nice and very tight jam on a smokin' version of Hank Ballards standard "HAVE MERCY BABY". This one rocked.
Other tracks not mentioned, but certainly as good as those that were, are: "ALL AROUND THE WORLD", "OOH LAWDY MY BABY", "RUN, RUN BABY", "SOMEBODY HAVE MERCY", "LET THE FOUR WINDS BLOW" and "ANOTHER LIGHT".
With his multi-generation and cross-genre appeal and the quality work that was put into this product, "NIGHT TRAIN" may very well take TERRY HANCK up the tracks to the stardom he is ultimately destined for.
You can visit Terry Hanck on the web at: www.terryhanck.net/
With all due respect to all of the wonderful singer-songwriters, all of the wonderful acoustic musicians, all of the wonderful "pickers" and all of the wonderful roots based folksy blues performers in the world, this style has never particularly struck my fancy. I'm sure that many of my regular readers, knowing my taste, will be quite surprised when they read this review. Quite frankly, I am surprised that I am writing it. BRIAN BLAIN has shown me the meaning of never say never.
I think what impressed me most about "OVERQUALIFIED FOR THE BLUES" was the writing. All but one of the songs, as well as being BRIAN BLAIN originals, are cunning, artful, humorous, ingenious and honest real life revelations.
Of course assembling twenty of Canada's finest musicians for support didn't hurt. The last time I saw this many Canadian stars listed on the same lineup was on the roster of the `76 - `79 Montreal Canadians - the team that won four consecutive Stanley Cups. Joining BRIAN are: VICTOR BATEMAN, DAVID BAXTER, RICHARD BELL, EMILY BRADEN, MICHAEL JEROME BROWN, REBECCA CAMPBELL, BUTCH COULTER, DAISY DEBOLT, MIKE FITZPATRICK, MICHAEL FONFARA, JIM GALLOWAY, MICHELLE JOSEF, GARY KENDALL, GARTH LOGAN, SUE LOTHROP, HARRY MANX, ROD PHILIPS, PAUL REDDICK, MARC ROY and LILY SAZZ.
One of my favorite tracks is the very clever "SAAB STORY". It's a story about a very lonely women who drives a Saab Turbo Convertible thus making it a true 'sob story'. The lead vocals complimented by the background chatter and singing are excellent. RICHARD and JIM are also excellent on piano and sax and MICHELLE'S brush and cymbal work is outstanding.
Another excellent, and unfortunately all too true, song is "BLUES IS HURTING". It's a realistic interpretation of the very sad blues scene. BRIAN claims that "......if you ask a young man who he'd like to hear sing, the only blues player he can name is B B King".... and how "........the money hasn't changed much in the last 30 years and that club owners still expect blues musicians to sing for a few beers". Two very scary but truthful facts. BRIAN'S harmony and MICHAEL BROWN'S harp highlight this track.
"TERRACE INN" is a rockin' number in which BRIAN, playing some hot guitar, obviously reminisces about one of his earlier bands. This one's an all out jam with MICHELLE and ROD on fire on the drums and organ.
"HIGH TECH BLUES" seem to give BRIAN the low down blues. This song discredits having to be low down and livin' on welfare to have the blues because any millionaire can get struck by the high tech blues. This one has some of the best blues guitar on the CD and some serious blues piano playing by DOWNCHILD'S, MICHAEL FONFARA.
"ONE MORE WEASEL", is about some one (or more) that we have all encountered at a live show - the jerk that needs to speak so loud - during the performance - that his neighbors back home can hear him/her. In this song they are lovingly referred to as weasels.
Other wonderfully written and recorded tracks on "OVERQUALIFIED FOR THE BLUES" include "NO MORE MEETINGS", the title track "OVERQUALIFIED FOR THE BLUES", "ENFANT CHOISI", "I'M A LITTLE MIXED UP", "SAILING", "ONE WAY TICKET", "PEACE" and "THE BIG FIRE".
If your blues listening taste includes enjoying the rootsy, folksy, picker style of play you'll really enjoy this disc. So will all other listeners.
Learn more about Brian Blain and his music at this website: www.brianblain.ca
Having twice seen ZAC HARMON & THE MID SOUTH REVIEW live, I've already had the pleasure of writing a few words about their shows and it's the memories of those very shows that led me to want to review their new CD.
Winning the 2004 IBC Award earned them to right to perform for the cocktail hour preceding that years W C Handy Awards. The thing I remember most about that performance was the bands ability to draw - and maintain - a very large and very attentive crowd to the stage, in a room where the main objective of the crowd is to eat, drink, mingle, ogle, take pictures and seek autographs.
That same week, I caught their full fledged festival act at 'Memphis in May' and that show just blew me away. The chemistry between ZAC HARMON and JEFF STONE was masterful. I'll never forget ZAC pointing to JEFF and saying "he is to me what Junior Wells was to Buddy Guy". WHOA! OK, enough reminiscing and on with the CD review.
On "THE BLUES ACCORDING TO ZACARIAH", ZAC HARMON assembled a crowd of quality musicians. The list reads like a small towns white pages. With himself on guitar, bass, keys, lead and background vocals, he is of course joined by the regulars of the MID SOUTH REVIEW: JEFF STONE, harmonica; "COOL" CORA COLEMAN, drums; DOUG "MUG" SWANSON, bass; RODNEY "BR" MILLON, GUITAR; BILL PURDY, organ & piano. As if this wasn't enough talent, enter the "KATS" - PHIL GATES, guitar and background vocals; CHRISTOPHER TROY, piano, organ and horns; TRACY CARTER, organ, clavinet and background vocals; JOSHUA DUNHAM, ANDREW GOUCHE and P-BASS JONES, bass; SHANNON PEARSON and DWIGHT WRIGHT, background vocals; GREGG WRIGHT, guitar; and MISS MICKEY CHAMPION, vocals.
"THE BLUES ACCORDING TO ZACARIAH", opens with one of the discs six originals - "THAT MIGHTY HIGH", a classic uplifting Gospel song, with lots of very timely and well maintained hand clapping, lots of very well harmonized background singing and lots of soulful hollering from ZAC. This one's hot stuff.
"WHO'S KNOCKING" is another hot one. The slide guitar and harmonica work, along with ZAC'S sharp and melodic vocals highlight this one.
"IT'S COOL WITH ME" and "A HOLE IN MY HEART" are two blues songs that all aspiring young bluesmen should be required to listen to. This is what the blues is all about.....searing guitar licks and scorching vocals - perfectly done.
"THAT'S WHY" is all ZAC. With some very nice horn work providing him with the rhythm, and some soft background vocals providing a bit of support, he sings his heart out on this original ballad.
Unquestionably, in my opinion, one of the best tracks on this disc has to be a cover called "IT HURTS ME TOO". The song opens with some serious blues harp then gives way to a powerful vocal verse by ZAC. At this point MISS MICKEY CHAMPION takes over and takes this one over the top. More from her would have been sweet.
Other tracks on "THE BLUES ACCORDING TO ZACARIAH", one of the best CD's this listener's ears have heard this year, include "SUGARMAN", "MANNISH BOY", and "COMFORT OF A MAN".
"THE BLUES ACCORDING TO ZACARIAH", may just be the product that takes ZAC HARMON AND THE MIDSOUTH REVIEW from the cocktail hour to the main stage of the W C Handy Awards.
You can visit Zac Harmon on the Web at: www.zacharmon.com/