Had I read the one sheet included with this disc before actually listening to it, there's a good chance I may not have listened at all. That's the reason I don't do it. With no disrespect intended to the late - and yes, great - Jimi, I probably would have read the "Hendrixian" comparison and made a wrongfully premature decision that I'd be listening to another rocker calling himself a blues man. That's not the case at all.
With very strong vocal and guitar performances, and all original music and lyrics to boot, Jason King Roxas' "Blue Skies & Black Shoes" is one heck of an impressive debut disc. Jason's backed by a talented band which include Wilbert Banks on bass, Pat Dotson and Michael Moore on drums, Jason Stanton on keyboards and Hammond B3, Tommy Stiles on Weissenborn (lap slide) and lap steel guitars, Rick Metz on Tenor and Baritone saxophones, and Freddie Mills on harmonica.
"I'm Your Man" is one of those barn burners that ends way too soon. You know what I mean, it's one of those three and a half minute tracks that gets into such a groove that you want to hear ten more minutes of it. With Michael putting out some red-hot rhythm on the drums behind them, Jason and Rick smoke their guitar and tenor leads. Surely one of discs best right here.
His tender, sincere vocals, and soft, torrid guitar notes are evidence of the anguish Jason's feeling over a departing lover on "Cryin' Shame". Although Wilbur, Pat and Jason S. provide him with an ever so slow rhythm to work with, this one is all Jason King. This is just one of the tracks I was talking about when I earlier referred to "very strong vocal and guitar performances". Great song!
If, like me, you like your blues "Mean & Nasty", then this one's for us. Singing with an attitude, Jason's fueled by smoldering sax from Rick, fervent organ from Jason S, rock-solid rhythm from Wilbert and Pat, and lots of heat from his own guitar. Another winner right here.
Wilbert and Pat take the rhythm up a notch, Freddie blows it out on harp, and Jason tears it up on guitar on the smoker called "My Little Baby". This one surely packs the dance floor.
By far, the discs best vocals are right here on "6 Years Gone" - a melancholic ballad. Jason masters this one. Great lap steel and piano work by Tommy and Jason S make it even more beautiful.
Other tracks - which do get a little funky and a bit more aggressive - on "Blue Skies & Black Shoes" include: "Steppin' Out", "Driftin", "Learn To Take It Slow", "Broken", "Blue Skies And Black Shoes", and "Soul Shaker".
For more on Jason King Roxas, just visit his web site - www.jasonkingband.com. While there, make him and yourself both happy and pick up a copy of "Blue Skies & Black Shoes". And as always, please tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
Although they'll answer to Mr. and Mrs. Tracy or Kirk and Nicole, these two swingers are better known as "Kid & Nic". Having had successful individual careers before meeting, things still seem to be on the up "swing" for this sax and singer duo. With "Goin' Downtown" being their fourth release, it's obvious that the family that sings, dances and parties together is the family that's successful together.
The Kid & Nic Show perform regularly as a five piece band and on this project, a compilation of songs from their previous three releases, they are joined by a tremendous - in quality as well as quantity - supporting cast. Joining Kid on saxophones, harmonica and vocals, and Nic on vocals are: Kevin Slagg, Bill Wiseman and Jay Carney on guitars; Josh Becker, Matt Meneged and David Wilson on bass; Jim Xavier, Jeff Stridde and Vince Brooks on drums; Tracy Longstreth on drums & keyboards.
The disc opens with what I'm sure Kid & Nic - and their audiences - often have..... "Nothin' But A Good Time". The lyrics make it obvious that it's their introductory number and it makes a hell of a first impression. The Kids' wailing away on sax, David and Vince - on bass and drums - have me already thinking they're going to be a tough act to follow on rhythm, and Nic's just havin' a ball with the vocals.
On "Rollin' Into Reno", one of the rhythm players has changed - and I'm still impressed - but the frantic pace hasn't . This is a quick three and a half minute track with Jeff at full throttle on drums from start to finish. With some harmony help from Nic, Kid excels on lead vocals.
This track could not have had a better name. "Mystify" is one of those slow sultry ballads which immediately paints a picture of a dark, cobblestone street on a foggy, rainy night in a mystery movie. This one's highlighted by Kid's equally sultry vocals and sax with slow, sullen rhythm and perfectly soft, smooth guitar coming from Tracy, Josh and Jay. The so called "icing on the cake" in this track was from a really good vibraphone patch on a keyboard that was very well done by Tracy. This is one incredible track, an original at that.
OK amateurs, now get off the dance floor and make room for the pros. "Motorhead Baby" is all out, full blown boogie at it's best. This one rips from open to close with Kid, Bill, Matt & Jim creating musical mayhem, while Nic - singing with lots of sass-itude, kicks it on vocals. Real good stuff right here.
There may be "Nothin' Romantic About L. A." but there's certainly something romantic with the way this track is done. With Dave and Vince setting the mood with a warm rhythm, Kevin's titillating guitar, Kid's provocative sax sounds and Nic's sensual vocals, this is one hell of a sexy sound.
Other tracks on "Goin' Downtown" include: "Come To Me", "The Chicken And The Hawk", "Hwy. 60", "Pull Through" and "Who Would Love This Car But Me?".
Check out The Kid & Nic Show by visiting them at www.kidandnic.com. That's where you'll be able to pick up a copy of "Goin' Downtown" so that just like Kid, Nic and their audiences do, you'll be able to have nothin' but a good time as well. And please, tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.
While offering my opinion on any particular CD, I generally prefer not get into too much detail about the artist's history and accomplishments. If desired, readers can find all that out with a simple search on the Internet. On the other hand, sometimes - and this is one of them - those merits are worthy of a some brouhaha.
Pete Anderson is a Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning Producer/Guitarist who is most widely known as the musical partner to Dwight Yoakam, whose records he produced/arranged/and played on from 1986-2003 resulting in sales of 25 Million and counting. He's also a renowned bandleader who has appeared on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, and The Tonight Show nineteen times. All that - and that's not actually all of it - now has me wondering what the heck am I going to say about Pete that hasn't already been said. Oh well, here goes.....
On this project Pete returns to the music he fell in love with as a teenager while attending the Ann Arbor Blues Festival - the blues! "Even Things Up" consists of a dozen tracks, of which most are written or co-written by Pete, that are a perfect blend of blues, jazz, R&B and swing. Joining Pete Anderson, on vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums and percussion are: Michael Murphy on Hammond organ, electric piano, accordion, bass and lead vocals; Herman Matthews and Jeff Donovan on drums; Lee Thornburg and David Woodford on horns; Maxine Waters on background vocals.
Although it might sound like a country title, "Honky Tonk Girl" might just be more for the swing, rather than the line dancers. This smokin' shuffle, fueled by the steady rhythm of Michael on organ and Jeff on drums, features very impressive work from Pete on guitar.
The assortment of rhythmic sounds you'll here on "Even Thing Up" is endless. From Mike's mastery of the Hammond, to the beat Herman's got going on the drums, to the percussion and guitar work of Pete and right down to the tone of his harp, all make this one a complete listening pleasure.
Whoa! Speaking about rhythm and percussion, "Wes' Sid Blues" nails it. I can see the dance floor filling and the hips shaking when this one starts. Get ready to cha-cha-cha. Due to sheer music perfection, this one had to be an instrumental. Pete on guitar and Michael on piano are both at discs best right here.
Since you're already dancin', don't stop now....just change speeds. Stop shakin' and start swingin' to the rippin' beat of the "Dogbone Shuffle". Lee and David do a great job of jazzin' this one up with their horns. This one's real hot stuff.
This next track is all Pete. It features some of his best blues guitar work and some very soulful vocals. It's a very slow, very bluesy ballad which has him singing to someone he's sadly, yet very "Still In Love" with. Although I'm out of touch with the songs that win Grammy's, I do know that this is the kind of a song that wins Blues Music Awards.
"Prophet For Profit" is an acoustic solo effort with Pete singin', pickin' and harpin'. And if you think, that with a title like this, the song might be cynical and sarcastic, of course you're right. That's what makes it fun.
Other tracks on "Even Things Up" include: "Booker Twine", "That's How Trouble Starts", "One And Only Lonely Fool", "Stop Me", "Room With A Few" and "Blue Guitar".
More stuff like this from Pete Anderson just might "Even Things Up" by winning him some BMA's to go along with those Grammy's. Welcome back to the blues Pete.
For more on Pete Anderson, and to purchase the disc as well, just go to www.peteanderson.com. And as usual, make sure you say the Blewzzman sent ya.
Over the past few weeks, I've received way too many discs from local bands, from various areas of the country, containing nothing but overdone cover songs. After listening to all of them, and realizing that most of them sounded the same, I decided I wouldn't be reviewing any of them........except for one. True, "Danger Zone" doesn't contain any original music, but since these ten covers are being performed by one of the best new bands I've heard in a long time - the Kansas City Blues Band - I felt I just had to say something about it.
The group, which has extremely impressed me, consists of: Tom Bark on bass and vocals, Rick Hendricks on guitar, Mike O'Neil on drums and tambourine, and Larry Van Loom on Hammond Organ. Joining them are special guests Steve Glassmeyer on piano, Matt Glassmeyer on sax, Tim Gonzalez on harp and Craig Kew on bass.
As soon as Tom Bark opened his mouth - exactly 34 seconds into the opening track of "Going To Chicago" - he had me hooked. With a style and sound so similar to one of my all time favorite vocalists - Barkin' Bill, I knew I'd be lovin' this disc. Then Tim and Larry came in with some serious harp and Hammond highlights, all while the rhythm guys were locked in real tight and I was in my listening glory.
With some intermittent soft, yet sharp, guitar and organ leads thrown in by Rick and Larry, "Room With A View" is highlighted by some of the discs best rhythm. Tom and Mike are just too sharp on the bass and drums. This one is so unbelievably smooth.
I found myself really looking forward to hearing this next track - since it is one of my all time favorite jazz songs. Written by Gene McDaniels - a fellow Missourian, and made very popular by two jazz giants - Les McCann & Eddie Harris, I was anxious to find out if the Kansas City Blues Band did justice to "Compared To What". On that particular version, Less on Vocals & piano and Eddie on tenor sax, with some wicked percussion backing them up, were flawless as well as relentless. On this particular version, Mike and Larry provided the percussion heat on the Hammond and drums, Matt covered the tenor work nicely and Tom nailed the vocals. I don't think I'll ever hear a version better than the one on "Swiss Movement", but these guys did one hell of a job. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the song, give this a look... www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRONbnyNpu8.
Speaking of which versions of songs are best, right now I'm hearing the best version of "Born In Chicago" I'll ever hear. Well into the opening, I thought I may have been listening to an instrumental version, and with the rhythm I was hearing behind some great harp and guitar leads that would have suited me just fine. Then Tom started doing that barkin' thing and I knew I was listening to the discs best track......that is until I heard "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water". Man I'm loving this disc.
"Two Years of Torture" would surely be enough to give you the blues and this is one of the more low down and dirty blues tracks. It's eight minute length, allows time for several well done organ and guitar lead changes.
Other tracks on this outstanding release include: "Danger Zone", "Laundromat Blues", "Jealous Kind" and "Better Off With The Blues".
The guys in the Kansas City Blues Band have told me they are already working on a new project that's going to include a lot of original songs and when it's out, you can bet you'll be reading my thoughts on it. I'm already excited.
In the meantime, check them out at www.kansascitybluesband.com, pick up a copy of "Danger Zone", and tell them the Blewzzman sends his regards.
When faced with the dilemma of receiving two CDs from Tommy Lee Cook, that were released at the same time, with a request from Tommy for me to review whichever disc I wanted to, it should already be quite obvious that the decision was just too tough to make. Therefore, I'm going to have a little fun and do my first ever "rereview" (yeah, yeah, I know that's not a word).
Except for one guitar player, the differences between the performers on the two discs are basically nil. Each disc contains eleven tracks of which five are originals. Joining Tommy Lee Cook, on lead vocals and rhythm, dobro & acoustic guitars are: Ted Scott and Bill Canty on drums, Harry Cassano and Pat Hayes on keyboards, Rex Bongo, Duke Danger and Danny Shepard on lead guitar, Justin Richey and Rastus Kane on slide guitar, August Zona on bass, Scott "Big Daddy" Johnson and Pat Hayes on harp, Terry Gable on horn and The Skin'er Back Quartet of Harry, Pat, Daddy and Tommy on background vocals and claps.
The "Cemetery Road" disc opens with an impressive version of my favorite tribute song - "Six Strings Down". As with the original, the guitar work is fabulous. Also highlighting this track are the outstanding lead and harmony vocals.
"Cemetery Road", the title track, is a heavyhearted ballad that, in spite of very nice slide and rhythm work, is all Tommy. On this original track, his mournful and soul filled vocals are chilling. This is the kind country blues song that if performed by someone with the popularity of Trace Adkins would become a number one country hit.
Like all men, Tommy gets so easily led when that "Little Head" does the thinkin'. The rhythm guys take the spotlight on this one. Ted, August and Harry get the drums, bass and piano locked into one of those foot tappin', head bobbin' grooves and never let it go.
Everyone gets in some highlights on "Porta Rican Woman" (sic) - the discs hottest blues track. The guitars, the keyboards and the harp at one time or another - and often simultaneously - are smoking, and the vocals and rhythm are outstanding throughout.
The "Buckingham Peace Of Mind" disc opens with a very funky and well done version of Dylan's "Serve Somebody". As a matter of fact, this could very well be the best version I've ever heard. Ted, August and Terry got that funky feeling down pat on rhythm, Big Daddy's blowin' heat out of the harp, Justin's beside himself on slide, and Tommy - sounding like a Gospel singer - is awesome on vocals. Replays took me nearly thirty minutes to listen to this six minute track.
"Consequences" is another slow, blues filled ballad on which Tommy sings his heart out. That, and some serious guitar licks split between Rex and Duke, clearly make this one of this discs best.
"Buckingham Peace Of Mind", the title track, is another excellent country blues track. This one features some of the discs best drum work from Billy and lots of good guitar playin' - some of which comes from Tommy, on acoustic guitar.
Everyone's showin' off their stuff on "Too Much Stuff". This one's an all out kick ass jam. Who ever's on it, and whatever they're playin' is being played fast and hot. I'm winded just listening. What a perfect song to close on.
Other tracks on "Cemetery Road" include: "Big Boss Man", "Bending Like A Willow Tree", "Late Night Drive", "Nothing Lasts Forever", "Blues As Blues Can Get", "Too Drunk To Boogie", and "Little Sister".
Other tracks on "Buckingham Peace Of Mind" include: "Monkey Around", "Down Home Girl", "Cross To Bear", "Country Song", "Lie No Better", "Get Right", and "Late Last Night".
You can check Tommy Lee Cook out at several places. The first one is his web site which is www.tommyleecook.com. That's where you'll be able to pick up both of these discs.
The second is at his blues club. If you happen to live in the area of Southwest Florida, stop in and see him at the Buckingham Blues Bar. Once you're there, tell Tommy the Blewzzman told you all about him.
Over the years, the Peach State has been very well represented here at www.Mary4Music.com. The state has been the home of countless numbers of excellent blues bands that have submitted many fine products for review. As we start a new year, and a new decade, we are pleased to be doing it with another great band from the State of Georgia - The Georgia Healers.
On "Heal This", The Georgia Healers consists of Donnie Ray Simonds on vocals & harmonica, John Straw on bass, Jimmy Boleman and John Davis on guitar, and Steve Harding on drums, with Miss Mamie Fike on the backup vocals. With fifteen tracks, of which there are a handful of originals, the disc contains nearly an hour of good hard core blues. Let's go hear some.
"Heal This" opens with a song about something every guy in the world wants - "A Beautiful Girl". I hope you find her guys, but remember what Jimmy Soul once told us, "You'll be happy for the rest of your life, if you make an ugly woman your wife." The Healers certainly do a great job covering this Nick Curran track. Jimmy & John nail the lead and rhythm guitar parts and Donnie is outstanding on the vocals.
"Why Do You Say You Love Me?" should have you wildly shaking one or more of your body parts within 3 seconds from starting. If not, you really should go watch some television, because music ain't your thing. This original track is a ball of fire that just keeps getting hotter. Chuck Berry fans will relate. Of course, with songs of a pace this rapid, it's the rhythm section that makes it all go so well and John and Steve are seeing to that. This is hot stuff.
Now that the fast dancers have gone to catch their breath, it's time for the grinders and the swayers to take the floor, and "I've Got My Eyes On You" is just the song for it. This is one of those numbers where you just close your eyes and let the slow, smooth, soulful melody take over your body. It might just give you flashbacks of those American Bandstand teenagers saying "It had a good beat and was easy to dance to". With the guys in a perfect groove behind him, this one's all Donnie - he wrote it, sings the hell out of it and highlights it with his harp.
Here I am, with eleven tracks left, on a fifteen track disc, and I'm already commenting on four of the five listened to tracks. But "Don't Worry", I have no space constraints and it's obvious I'm loving what I'm listening to. This is another of five originals and it's a hot finger snappin', toe tappin' shuffle. Guitar leads and tight rhythm rule this one.
If you're going to sing a song about a "Red Headed Woman", then, like the woman, you're singing about, the song's got to be hot...and this version sizzles. With John at discs best on bass, the rhythm is immensely intense. Some of Donnie's best harp work can be heard here as well.
Saying "It Comes To Me Naturally", The Georgia Healers could very well be speaking of their own prowess. I surely believe them. This one's another of their typical type tracks - an all out free for all jam with everyone racing towards the finish. Phew! Just listening wore me out.
It may be a "Mean Old World", but with the talent it's given The Georgia Healer's, it certainly wasn't that mean. Being a Little Walter track ya gotta be thinkin' lots of hot harp, and of course - you're right. It, along with the usual great vocals, hot rhythm and excellent guitar work, make this another gem.
Other wonderful tracks on "Heal This" include: "Automatic", "Low Down Woman", "Midnight Tears", "Ridin' In The Moonlight", "Is There Something Inside Of You?", "Taildragger", "Ten Years Of Marriage", and "Wait On Time".
Here I am, on my first review of the new year, just one week after announcing the winner of the 2009 "Blewzzy Award", and I'm thinking this just may be the disc to beat in 2010. I strongly suggest you visit The Georgia Healers at www.thegeorgiahealers.com and get to know more about this band - which you'll do by listening to the disc you buy. Please tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.
I was a bit surprised that when the Blues Foundation recently released it's 2010 Blues Music Awards Nominations that the Jeff Jensen band was not listed in the "Best New Artist Debut" category. However, I've just learned why, and the reason is very valid - unbeknownst to me, "I'm Coming Home" is not their first, but rather their second disc. Hearing what I just heard, I'm puzzled as to how I've been unaware of such an excellent band. Well, now I know I've got to get a copy of that first disc.
Using thirteen musicians on this project, Jeff Jensen seems to have successfully combined quantity with quality. Joining him, on vocals and guitar, are the nucleus of the band: Bill Ruffino on bass vocals & trombone; "Chicago" Chuck Gullens on drums; Jamieson Trotter on piano, Hammond organ & Fender Rhodes; and Nate Lapointe on guitar & vocals. They are joined by The Pandis Horns which include: George Pandis on trumpet & flugelhorn; John Roberts on Trombone; and Dan Heffeman on tenor & baritone sax. Special guests include: Riz on piano; Marcy Levy on backup vocals; Alan (BB "Chung" King) Miriktani on guitar; Gary Allegretto on harmonica; and Kyle Culkin on vocals.
The title track, "I'm Coming Home", is a superb blend of several musical styles. Hearing and feeling, Jeff's emotions as he sings the vocals surely make it soulful. The rhythm coming from Chuck and Bill on the drums and bass certainly make it funky. And, the heat comin' outta George, John and Dan's horns definitely add plenty of rhythm & blues. Great fusion on this one.
I'm sensing some sarcasm as Jeff sings about some of his favorite things about "Living in Los Angeles". As bad as he claims the air in the city is, it's the air being blown into the horns that highlight this one. The Pandis Horns are at discs best right here.
The pace changes a bit as the band settles down into a nice, slow groove on "Worried Life Blues". This is the kind of stuff that always has me hitting the replay button. Slowly sung blues backed by sultry saxophone, hot piano and scorching guitar leads. Dan, Riz and Nate nail their parts on this one. Good stuff guys.
The dancers will love "Good Morning Judge"...the fast dancers, that is. This one swings. Leading the pace...or more like the race, is the frantic rhythm section, with the piano and horns pushing hard and doing a real good job of keeping up. Man, I need a rest just from listenin'.
"Cocaine Spiked Whiskey" sounds like something I may have said "make mine a double" to, at an earlier stage in my life - yet just hearing the two products in the same sentence scares me. This is a song - believe it or not - about making bad decisions...hmmmmm. The Hammond, the horns and some wild guitar highlight this low down blues burner.
Although Jeff seems to be on the prowl for one, my take on "Skinny Girls" is "eat a donut". I know he can't be serious about wanting a 6'3", 98lb, 32A woman. WHY? I will tell you what is serious about this track, and that's the harp and Hammond playing. Backed by real tight rhythm, Gary and Jamieson shine on this one.
The disc closes with "Please Don't Go". With the horns and rhythm section tightly backing them up, this one's highlights are the powerful vocal performance from Jeff and Marcy's.
Other tracks on "I'm Coming Home" include" "Ask Me No Questions", "Doing The Right Thing", "She's Evil", and "Please Don't Go".
For more on the band, swing by www.jeffjensenband.net and check them out. Make sure you tell Jeff that the Blewzzman sent ya and grab yourself a disc... or two.
Although it's been some time since we've heard from them, members of The Porkroll Project, individually and collectively, are seasoned veterans here at www.Mary4Music.com. One way or another, searching our archives will find many of these fellows names, and it's certainly a pleasure to be hearing from them again.
The 2009 version of the band consists of: Paul Matecki on piano and lead vocals; Neil Taylor on guitar and lead & background vocals; Joey Stout on organ and lead & background vocals; Ed Young on bass; Chad Edstrom, J. T. Thomas and Matt DelCollo on drums; Buddy Cleveland on harp; Doc White on bass and lead vocals; and the Union Street Horns, which include: Joe Anderson and Paul Giess on trumpet; Steven Sharp on trombone; and Dave Renz and Paul Cleveland on tenor sax.
"Shake It Twice", the bands latest effort, contains six original tracks and four familiar covers. On the opening track, "My Daddy Was The Postman", I get the impression a lot of "male" may have been being delivered by this mailman. This one's a smoker on which the hot rhythm, fiery guitar and keyboard leads, and rippin' harp are definitely going to have you shaking it.....a lot more than twice.
In blues songs, some very profound lyrics have been used when paying a compliment to someone, or emphasizing the love one may feel for another. "I'd Rather Go Blind" (than to see you walk away) is one example and "I'll Drink Your Bathwater" (just to prove my love for you) is another. Having said that, is it just me - or does the latter of those two sound worse than the first? Oh, what the heck.....all that matters is that this track kicked some blues butt. It's nearly eight minutes of slow scorching blues, highlighted by sharp and piercing harp from Buddy, orgasmic organ leads from Joey and scorching blues guitar leads from Neil. And by the way, as enthusiastic and heartfelt as his vocals were, I believe he'd drink it.
"I Can't Turn My Back" (On The Blues) is another of the discs best. With fierce rhythm going on behind them, Paul, Joey and Neil heat it up while passing the lead around from the organ, to the piano, to the guitar and back around again. This is some real hot stuff, especially with the heat comin' outta those Union Street Horns.
In spite of Neil tearing it up on guitar and vocals and a few nice harp leads, "Dance Monkey Dance" is highlighted by the wicked percussion. Joey, Doc and Matt are all over the organ, bass and drums on yet another smoker.
With so many clubs closing and festivals being canceled, I sure wish I could hear more people saying "The Blues Is My Business" (And Business Is Good). In any event, The Porkroll Project certainly do this cover justice and obviously, from what I just heard on "Shake It Twice", the blues is their business and business is good.
Other tracks on "Shake It Twice" include: "Evil Woman Blues", "Shake It Twice", "Walking The Dog", "Two Weeks Notice" and "Vehicle".
You can check out The Porkroll Project by going to www.porkroll-blues.com. Once you're there, I suggest you: wish the band good luck at the 2010 IBC's as the Diamond States representatives; buy the CD, of course; and tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.
When a new artist sends me a debut CD with nothing but covers, I generally have a hard time mustering up any enthusiasm over it - especially when it comes to writing about it. On the other hand, there are always exceptions. The high quality of the vocals, the caliber of musicians assembled for the project, along with the fine arrangements and production make "The Soul Of A Woman", by Memphis Linda Jane, one of those exceptions.
Joining Memphis Linda Jane, on lead vocals, are: Rich Wenzel on piano, organ & accordion; Kirk Fletcher, Todd Robinson and Barry Levenson on guitar; Bobby Tsukamoto and Blake Watson on bass; James Gadsen on drums; Gordon Peeke on percussion; Scott Martin (horn arrangements) on tenor & baritone sax; Stan Martin on trumpet; Mike Whitman on alto sax; Diane Newberry, Clydene Jackson and Diane & Michael Wright on background vocals.
"The Soul Of A Woman" was inspired by the souls of several women: Etta, Koko and Denise - just to name a few - who, with their sassy and spirited attitudes, were several of Memphis Linda Jane's inspirations.
The opening track, the very funky "If You Love Me", makes a great first impression. The enthusiastically rendered vocals make it quite clear MLJ can sing and has a lot of fun doing it as well. Additionally, the energetic horn section quickly establishes itself as one of the finest, and Todd tears it up on guitar.
"Too Many Cooks" may very well spoil the stew, but too much rhythm will have you doing the rumba, and this one's full of it. Highlighted by very heavy baritone sax leads from Scott, hot percussion and drums from Gordon and James, and outstanding keyboard work from Rich, this is a dancer's delight.
"Do Ya" like catchy upbeat sing-a-longs with great background vocals? Well if ya do, then "Do Ya" is for you. With the horns adding a little Delta flavor, Memphis Linda Jane and her "Jane-ettes" highlight this one with some fine vocals.
Some of the discs best vocals are performed on "Loves Blues". Again, the background support is excellent, but in spite of that, MLJ is at her best right here. It's this listeners opinion that it's the smooth and slower numbers that bring out her sultrier and sassier side. Musically, Barry and Rich provide the highlights on guitar and piano. I'm hoping to hear more like this.........
......and "I'm Gettin' 'Long Alright" is just what I was hoping for. This one nails what Memphis Linda Jane is all about. This is slow, burning blues the way it was meant to be sung and played. The belting out of skillful and soulful vocals backed by slow rhythm, silky soft piano and steady and steamy horns. It doesn't get any better than this.
"Forecast Blues" is the first of several tracks on which Kirk gets in on the action and that alone is enough to make this one of the discs best. In spite of MLJ and the horn section working their usual magic, Kirk runs away with this one.
Although the lyrics may not validate doing so, musically, "Take Your Hands Off Him" may make you want to throw your hands in the air and shout hallelujah! The very fast beat, the use of the tambourine and soulful harmony provided by the great background group all give this one a Gospel feel.
Other tracks on "The Soul Of A Woman" include: "Somebody Done Told Me", "Pay Check", "Tool Box Blues", "I Always Get My Man", and "Your Husband Is Cheating On Us".
Memphis Linda Jane may be new and Memphis Linda Jane may sing covers, but with a little more experience, some original music written around her style of singing and any bit of luck at all, Memphis Linda Jane could become a well known name in the blues community. When it happens, remember where you heard it.
You can check out MLJ by going to www.myspace.com/memphislindajane. Once you do, tell her Blewzzman sent you and become her friend. As a matter of fact, buy the disc and become her real good friend.