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Blues CD Reviews 33
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Randy McAllister New Cd Review

Randy McAllister
"Flying High While Staying Low Down"
(A Best Of Compilation)

BY PETER "BLEWZZMAN" LAURO, © February, 2007

What an honor for us here at - we now can add "GRAMMY NOMINEE", to the ever growing list of wonderful musicians that we've had the pleasure of promoting. "FLYING HIGH WHILE STAYING LOW DOWN" is RANDY MCALLISTER'S first release since "GIVERS AND TAKERS", the disc that was nominated for a "GRAMMY AWARD" in 2002. It's a Best of Compilation with five previously unreleased songs from his upcoming CD - which, from the sounds of these tracks, already appears to be a winner.

Obviously, with songs from several discs, the players on this recording are many. However, since being good enough to play on the disc certainly warrants being acknowledged, please allow me to introduce the talented bunch. Joining RANDY MCALLISTER, vocals and harmonica are: MATT WOODBURN, TODD BLALOCK, MIKE MORGAN, ANDREW "JR BOY" JONES, JIM SUHLER, STEPHEN BRUTON, ROLLO SMITH and MITCHEL SMITHEY, guitars; TIM ALEXANDER, piano organ and accordion; CHUCK "POPCORN" LOUDEN, RON THOMPSON and JIMMY MORGN, drums; SONNY COLLIE, RHANDY SIMMONS and MARK GOWAN, bass; BENITA ARTEBERRY-BURNS and ANGIE MCWHIRTHER, background vocals.

From the list of CD's I see these original songs were taken from - "TEMPORARY FIXES", "A LITTLE LEFT OF CENTER" and "DOPE SLAP SOUP", it appears that the latter would be the name of RANDY'S upcoming new disc. Therefore, I'm going to go straight to those tracks, some of which seem to have a common sound - Gospel & Country Blues.

"CLEAR MY HEAD" is highlighted by amazing vocals. RANDY and BENITA are a match made for listening and they do a masterful job on this duet. The very well written lyrics need to be paid close attention to. It's a therapeutic song about how everyday things can get to you, as they do to all of us, and when they do, you've got to just take a deep breath and clear your head. MATT and TODD supply some great guitar licks in front of some great rhythm from CHUCK, SONNY and TIM.

Very happily so, "CLOSE YOUR EYES" is lots more of the same. More great vocals from RANDY and BENITA and more spiritual and very uplifting lyrics from this amazing songwriter. Once again, about another of real life's importance's - needing someone to be there for you when you need them to be. How comforting is it knowing someone will be there to hold you up, when you're thinking about giving it up? If you don't already know, hear them sing it and you will. Man if this one doesn't make you feel good then you need to listen to "CLEAR MY HEAD" a few more times.

Going back about years ago, one of my favorite LP's was called "CHICKEN LICKIN" by a band so funky, they had to be called FUNK, INC. RANDY'S "CHICKEN' YOUR FIXIN" (from Temporary Fixes) is so full of funk, it brought that record to mind. With RHANDY on bass and CHUCK on drums laying a great foundation, and TODD supplying lots of funkified slide, it all provided a nice back drop for RANDY to lead the way on his funky harp and vocals.

"THE CHAIN" (also from Temporary Fixes) features more great magic from RANDY and BENITA. It's a typical RANDY MCALLISTER written song which features yet another wonderful message. This one is about being "the first link in the chain". It's all about being a leader vs a follower. Be the first to jump in, the first to make a move and be the first to act, etc. This time, RON, SONNY and MIKE provide the excellent drums, bass and guitar.

"WHAT MOVES YOU" (from A Little Left Of Center) is another one of my personal favorites. It opens with some very hot piano by TIM and the guitar work by JIM is some of the best on the disc. With BENITA once again joining RANDY, it's an automatic that the vocals are once again another of the tracks highlights. "WHAT MOVES YOU" will move you.

"WANDERING SHEPPERD" (also from A Little Left Of Center), is a very soft ballad that features only RANDY on vocals and TIM ALEXANDER on piano. A bit different than anything else, but very nice nevertheless.

If you thought that by mentioning this song at the end, I saved the best for last - I'll give you no argument. "WHY" (once again, from A Little Left Of Center), totally blew me away. It's another BENITA/MCALLISTER vocal and harmonizing masterpiece. On top of that it has more absolutely magnificent lyrics and the music is perfect.

Other tracks not mentioned are "THE GIRL AIN'T RIGHT / Dope Slap Soup, "TAKE ME OUT OF NEW ORLEANS" / Temporary Fixes, "THE SOUND OF LEAVING" / A Little left Of Center, "BAPTIST CHURCH" / Dope Slap Soup, "DRINKIN' TO PREVENT A KILLING" / A Little left Of Center), "NEVER HAD A LOT OF FAITH" / Temporary Fixes), "MAN WHO WENT FOR CIGARETTES" / Temporary Fixes", "STRONGER VICE / BETTER HOBBY" / Temporary Fixes and "HARD HEADED" / Dope Slap Soup.

Musically, I'm not one to cross genres. Typically, "If it ain't blues, I ain't listening. Having said that, and although there was enough blues on this disc to strike my fancy, regardless of anyone's taste, this disc has so much class and so much quality it should be loved by all.

Check out RANDY MCALLISTER @ an tell him ya heard lots of good stuff about him from the Blewzzman.

Music Seperation

Dave Gross Review

Dave Gross
"Take the Gamble"
Swingnation Records

BY PETER "BLEWZZMAN" LAURO, © February, 2007

Once every couple of years, someone comes along to give the blues just what it seems to need to insure it's very existence. I'm not talking about the dozens, or more, of the flashes in the pan who arrive on the blues scene thinking that "RED HOUSE" is the greatest blues song of all time. Or, the ones that have more foot petals in their equipment bag than they do chords in their repertoire. I'm talking about someone that makes blues fanatics, such as myself, stop and say "Yes! Here's someone who is capable of carrying the blues into the next generation". It doesn't happen often, but when it does it's truly a blessing.

About five years ago, I had this feeling about a young man by the name of Nick Moss. In his first year out, Nick got nominated for what was then known as a W C HANDY AWARD for "BEST NEW ARTIST DEBUT" and since then his name has become synonymous with what are now called the BLUES MUSIC AWARDS.

Well, it's been that long, but this year I once again have that very same feeling. This time, it is for a young man named DAVE GROSS, who has also garnered his very first - and remember you heard it here, there will be many more - BLUES MUSIC AWARD nomination, which is also for "BEST NEW ARTIST DEBUT".

The product that's drawing DAVE GROSS all of this attention is his second release titled "TAKE THE GAMBLE". On the disc, DAVE, on Vocals and Lead Guitar surrounds himself with a slew of recognizable and vastly talented musicians which include: DUKE ROBILLARD on Guitar; DOUG "MR. LOW" JAMES on Baritone and Tenor Sax; AL BASILE on Cornet; DENNIS GRUENLING on Harmonica; DONA OXFORD on Piano and Organ, ARTHUR NEILSON on Upright Bass and Guitar; A J HAGER on Fender Bass; MATT MOUSSEAU & MARK TEIXEIRA on Drums. I'm tellin' ya, if this were a baseball team, talent like that would have you thinkin' 1961 Yankees.

Now let me tell you about some of this outstanding music. Nine of the thirteen tracks are DAVE GROSS originals and "MESS ON MY PLATE" is just one of the many I'll touch on. On this N'awlins groove DAVE'S unique vocalization style, as it is on all the tracks, is just one of the many highlights. DONA'S piano's in the right place and the horns are all blending in at a nice soft pace.

"I'M LEAVING BABY" is the first of three tracks that feature the phenomenal DUKE ROBILLARD. Interestingly enough, had the disc not mentioned it, even the ear of a seasoned listener may not have known. The similarities and level of talent between the DUKE and the DAVE are amazing.

"I'M SO HUNGRY BLUES" is one of the discs more down and dirty blues track, which almost always makes it one of my particular favorites. I know I may say this more times than one review should allow, but once again, this young mans vocals and smooth guitar playing are once again a track highlight. The horn guys get their licks in on this one as well, especially AL with that great muffled cornet.

If you're a bottom person, then "SWINGIN' ON ALL SIX" will get your bottom goin'. This swing tune features the rhythm section on top of it's game. "MR LOW" on baritone, MARK on drums and Arthur on the standup can't get much lower than this.

Country blues fans won't feel left out after listening to "YOU AIN'T PLAYIN' ME NO MORE". With nicely done, very soft piano accompanied by equally nice and soft rhythm in the background, excellent lyrics - written by DAVE, delivered by way of excellent vocals - sung by DAVE are once again the highlight.

Being one of DAVE'S favorite songs - regardless of who does it - he had to choose "AFTER YOU'VE GONE" as one of his covers. It's a 30's swing song that featured AL at his very best on cornet. This one's got the rhythm sections working double time and DAVE doin' some great pickin'. A very hot number to say the least.

"MAKE THINGS RIGHT" is just one of the many tracks that made this whole project right. You can just feel DAVE'S emotion on this his singing and in his guitar playing, which is undoubtedly some of the best on the disc. On top of that, DONA'S organ will blow you away as well. Let me tell you how to listen to this song - stop anything you're doing, put the headphones on, turn up the volume, set the replay button to 5 or 6 and give yourself a dose of therapy.

DUKE ROBILLARD says "DAVE GROSS is definitely a force to be reckoned with among contemporary roots and blues guitarists".

HUBERT SUMLIN says ".......He can play man! I mean that boy can smoke. I sure like to bring him out with me on the road one day".

PETE THE BLEWZZMAN says "DAVE GROSS will help carry, if not lead, the blues into the next five or six decades."

Stop by and check out DAVE GROSS. Of course ya know ya gotta tell him Blewzzman sent ya. And, if you happen to be one the millions of people who live in the metropolitan NY/NJ area, definitely catch this act - please, not all at once though.

Music Seperation

Rusty Wright New CD Review

Rusty Wright Blues
"Ain't No Good Life"
Sadson Music


In his Press Kit, RUSTY WRIGHT uses a short paragraph to explain what "RUSTY WRIGHT BLUES" is. As a way of explaining the bands untraditional style of blues, he compares using one crayon to using all the colors in the box. Hence, a more diversified, cutting edge, and unconventional, assortment of blues styles should be expected. Hmmmmm......"more diversified", "cutting edge" and "unconventional".....isn't that normal for Detroit area bands? So why the disclaimer?

Now that you know about what "RUSTY WRIGHT BLUES" is, let me tell you who they are: RUSTY WRIGHT, lead and slide guitar, lead and harmony vocals, songwriter and arranger; LAURIE LACROSS-WRIGHT, lead and harmony vocals, rhythm and harmony lead guitar; STEVEN HIMES, keyboards and vocals; RANDY MCENTIRE, bass guitar; DAN MATA, drums and vocals; BRANDON MATA, tenor sax; BRENT MATA, alto sax.

"AIN'T NO GOOD LIFE", the title track, proved to be one of the discs most traditional tracks. It's a soft ballad which introduces RUSTY's magnificent voice and offers a tease of some great slide and lead guitar. The opening track has left me exactly where it's supposed to - I'm already looking forward to more.

"I AIN'T FROM MISSISSIPPI" is fast, funky and furious. On this one RUSTY and STEVEN take turns losing control on guitar and organ while the rhythm section - behind Mr. & Mrs Wright on vocals - is keeping up with them. This one's hot!

"THE FOOL WILL DO" is one of those songs that you just can't do anything while listening to - except boogie that is. As soon as it came on, my foot started tapping the floor, my hand started tapping my knee and my head started bobbing. Then, as soon as it ended instinct led me to hit the replay button and the process started all over again - without missing a beat. The combo of STEVE on keyboards, RANDY on bass and DAN on drums is one hell of a rhythm section.

With all of the great guitar work and the constant groove that this rhythm section is in, this next statement may be debated, but "DO IT AGAIN" is all about the vocals. RUSTY AND LAURIE are amazing together. Not since the early years of the great Jefferson Airplane have I heard such good male/female vocal harmony.

All I can say about "SUMMERTIME" is to add LAURIE to the long list of female singers that have done an excellent job belting out this tune. Just make sure she's near the top of that list.

"MISSIN' YOU" is similar to "DO IT AGAIN". Musically the whole band is in a constant jam while RUSTY and LAURIE sing their hearts out.

In the discs notes, RUSTY refers to "HELL ON MY HEELS" as four minutes of pure blues guitar mayhem in the tradition of the "Crossroads". Let's just say that's the ideal description of this track and leave it at that.

Other tracks on "AIN'T NO GOOD LIFE" that were not mentioned are: "HANG DOG", "NASTY REPUTATION", "LONG TIME COMIN", "SOMETHING MISSIN", "DON'T NEED YO BAD MIND" and "TOPPY". And, since I'm one of those blues fans who doesn't mind all the crayons in the box not being used, these tracks are more than likely the one's that RUSTY makes reference to.

The band is off to Memphis as the Detroit Blues Society's representative in the IBC's. Regardless of how they fare, those in attendance will certainly remember RUSTY WRIGHT BLUES. Stop by their website at and wish the band some luck. And, as usual, ya gotta tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.

Musical Bar

The Buicks CD Review

The Buicks
"The Buicks"
Teletone Records


There are some who would call a twenty year old Buick a "Classic". Based on that theory, what would you call a band that's known as the "BUICKS" that have been together for twenty years? Well, give a listen to their self titled disc called "THE BUICKS" and you'll be calling them a "Classic" as well.

The band that the Philadelphia Inquirer called "the best rhythm and blues act in the region" prides themselves on playing a mix of blues, soul, funk and rock and "THE BUICKS" contains twelve very hot tracks - of which ten are originals - to attest to that.

The opening track, one of the originals titled "TWO BARE HANDS", immediately impressed me. The vocals and background vocals were right on and every member in the band was featured in this hot and funky number. The lyrics are all about what one person has done with his two bare hands, and it's a lot. However, the one thing he didn't do with just his two bare hands is put this excellent project together. That took lots of help.

The motor that makes up these classic BUICKS consists of: JOE BORGHI on rhythm guitars and backup vocals; MIKE REINIG on saxophone, lead and backup vocals; LARRY SPURRIER on drums and percussion; RON BOGDON on bass; JAY LA BOY on lead guitar, lead and backup vocals; GUY STASIK on lead vocals and harmonica. Other optional parts include: JOE LA SORTE on rhythm and lead guitar; OSCAR on accordion; GLEN BICKEL on Hammond B3 Organ; ANTHONY KING, KIM KING and LORIE PANNULA on backup vocals.

"STAYIN IN TONIGHT", another original, is one of those slow, soft, sexy ballads. You know, the kinda track that jams a usually underused dance floor. With the two main ingredients in a song of this type being smooth, soulful vocals and slow, sultry saxophone, GUY and MIKE nail their parts. On this one even the lyrics are sexy. Grab your lady, set the stereo on replay and .......................

On any given night, in any given venue, any given band will ultimately get around to saying "THE MORE YOU DRINK (THE BETTER WE SOUND)". Well, the BUICKS took that theory to the next level and actually made a song out of it - a hilarious song at that. In spite of a rockin' rhythm section, sharp harp playing and some hot lead guitar licks, the lyrics highlight this one. The song takes an unhappy listener of an absolutely horrible band on an alcohol fueled journey that starts with him booing the band and ends with him joining the band.

Got Funk? "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND" is full of it. This hot number will have you "pickin' up the pieces" on the dance floor as flashbacks of the Average White Band have your body writhing uncontrollably. No need to pass out any individual praise here - everyone is tightly in the pocket.

There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that "CATCH MY BREATH" would put a big smile on Chuck Berry's face. This hot rockin' number, very reminiscent of his style, is quite appropriately named. After recording this one, I'm sure the whole band needed to catch their breath. The BUICKS were in passing gear on this all out high speed jam.

I highly recommend you jump into your Skylark, Electra, LeSabre or whatever it is you drive and cruise on down to your local record store for a copy of "THE BUICKS". Or better yet, go to and tell them "Blewzzman said this disc rocks and I'm here to buy one".

Musical Bar


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