When I received a correspondence from THE ROGER GIRKE BAND asking me if I'd review their new CD, "MY BABY LOVES THAT STUFF", I did what I do with all similar requests. I quickly returned an email to them stating our websites policy and procedure. Shortly afterward, I received a package in the mail and from the contents of the package, it was quite clear they didn't understand or hadn't read my policy. Then I came across a hand written note explaining in so many words that the band had decided to just cut to the chase because they "knew I would like the CD". At this point, having not yet listened to the CD, it was a bit early to tell if they were right or not, but I'll tell you this - I did like their style. They had me wondering it they were arrogant, if they were cocky, or if they were just plain confident? I guess the CD will answer that.
THE ROGER GIRKE BAND consists of ROGER GIRKE on guitar and vocals, JOE LA SORTE on guitar, IAN GREAVES on drums, JIMMY PRITCHARD on bass, GLENN BICKELL on keyboards and PETE MAYFORTH on sax. The CD "MY BABY LOVES THAT STUFF" is a nice mix of Chicago and Delta blues and some New Orleans funk and features ten originals out of eleven tracks.
The opening track, "MAKE IT FUNKY", did exactly what the title says. This is a funky soulful track that explains that the blues does not have to be slow and have dark glasses. The vocals were excellent and the band started off the CD in a nice tight groove. Hopefully there will be more of this ahead.
The title track, "MY BABY LOVES THAT STUFF" is a hot number about a problem all of us men should be lucky enough to have. It seems this man's woman just can't get enough of "that stuff". Getting ready to go to a B. B. King show, she decides that she'd rather "get some of that stuff" and our friend is really faced with a major dilemma.
"ALL BY MYSELF", the only cover on this CD is a nicely done version of a Fats Domino song. It's a short little song that features the piano of course, along with some nice sax solos.
"DADDY", is by far the bluesiest track on the CD, which of course comes hand in hand with it being my favorite track. This is Chicago Blues at it's best - serious scorching vocals and blues guitar. Send me CD's with 10 tracks like this and I'll be one happy reviewer.
Another real nice bluesy track is "YOU'RE RIGHT - I'M WRONG". Unfortunately, I get the feeling there is a true story in this song. Nevertheless, the blues guitar on this track is awesome.
Truthfully, I have to admit, the guys let the CD do the talking and it did indeed back them up. Therefore in a situation where I'd normally think "who the hell do these guys think they are"? I found my self admiring their confidence as well as admiring their musicianship.
I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is obviously a reason I felt so compelled to review this CD. Usually I shy away from the R&B style of the blues and stay more focused on the real mainstream blues. Yet, during the several listens that I give a CD before making the final decision, each listen of "LOOKING FOR A HOME TOO", caused me to listen closer the next time. Ultimately, I was able to put the "style preference" behind me and when I did, what I heard was nothing short of shear excellence.
On AYANNA & THE SOULMATES CD "LOOKING FOR A HOME TOO", all of the songs' music and lyrics are written by BUSTER "LITTLE BUSTER" FOREHAND, and the title of the CD is directly taken from a previously released CD by LITTLE BUSTER called 'LOOKING FOR A HOME" - but the similarities stop there. Everything about this band, which consists of AYANNA HOBSON on vocals; CHRIS HIATT on guitar; RICH ALFANO on bass; JOHNNY FLORES on drums; special guests JOHN CAZAN on organ and guitar; KATHERINE QUINIF on background vocals; and DAN MURPHY on guitar, is original
Throughout the CD, AYANNA'S vocals are one of it's highlights. Her voice is so strong, commanding and articulate that you can't help but think she could carry the song without a microphone. It didn't surprise me one bit when I read in her bio that she has an operatic 4.5 Octave vocal range and that she performed in many musical theater productions.
"MY DARLING", is one of the CD's bluesier tracks. CHRIS HIATT gets in his share of blues licks on this one. His playing throughout the CD impressed me enough to wish I could here him flat out play nothing but the blues. This track also features JOHNNY FLORES on a very nice drum solo.
"TOUGHER THAN TOUGH" may be the best track on the CD. The whole band is peaking and the vocals and background vocal are superb. The song has a bit of a gospel sound to it as it progressively gets faster and faster after each verse. This was a hot one. The whole CD is hot.
The production department deserves a nod here also. The mixing is perfect. Each instrument can be heard well enough to realize that respective musicians excellent talent, which "LOOKING FOR A HOME TOO" is abundant with. That's it, it took me till the end of the review to realize what the compelling force of the CD was - TALENT!
OK readers, here's a question for you. Quick, tell me your favorite Montana Bluesman. Hmmmm, let me see now....my favorite Montana blues man....errrrr....ummmmm.... errrrrr.... Just as I thought - you can't. But soon, that may very well change. Once word gets out about MIKE BADER'S new CD - "CLEARCUT CASE OF THE BLUES" - this bluesman from Montana will become common knowledge within the blues community.
The band consists of MIKE BADER on vocals and guitar, DAVE BADER on bass, TOM "T-BONE" GIBLIN on keyboards, MIKE "BUTCHIE" O'CONNELL on drums and guest TOM BADER playing harp on several tracks. The CD, which features all original music, is a nice mix of different styles of blues while featuring straight forward blues as the mainstay.
The opening track sounds like a song written out of a real life experience, If not MIKE's, surely someone else's. It's titled "POWER SHAFT BLUES". On it, Mike sings that "she got the power, he got the shaft.....she got the house, he got the garage......she got the yacht, he got the raft.....he thought he had love, but it was just a mirage". Lyrically and vocally this is an outstanding track that features great blues guitar and organ playing.
"AUF WIEDERSEHEN BABY", is another straight up blues track that features fine harmonica playing by TOM and once again some very good vocals. On this one, MIKE's saying good bye to his lady in German as well as many other languages. His writing seems to mix in a little humor with a lot of reality.
The title track "CLEARCUTCASE OF THE BLUES" is a song about all of lifes problems. Although Mike may never solve any of them, he sure does a hell of a job singing about them. This is another track that features some excellent blues guitar and one of the highlights on this CD - the excellent keyboard playing of "T-BONE" - who, by the way, is no stranger to the blues scene. TOM GIBLIN has certainly been around the blues block a few times. He's recorded with Lonnie Brooks, toured with Mighty Joe Young, and played with Bryan Lee, Elvin Bishop and the late legend, Albert Collins.
"SHUFFLIN' IN A" is a quick, catchy, Cajun number that's all about the organ, while "NEVER TOO LATE" and "FUNKY ED" throw some reggae and funk into the mix.
"ANY KINDA DAY" ends the CD with the sort of blues that makes up most of "CLEARCUT CASE OF THE BLUES", good old straight up blues and lots of great guitar work.
I guarantee you that after just one listen to "CLEARCUT CASE OF THE BLUES", the next time you're asked "who's your favorite Montana bluesman, your answer will be a "CLEARCUT" - MIKE BADER.