Blues Bytes


April 2020

Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters
Horn Of Plenty
Black Top Records

Grady GainesA little over ten years ago, I reviewed Grady Gaines and the Texas UpsettersFull Gain album, released by Black Top Records in 1988. Upon concluding the review, I promised that we would be looking at the band’s follow-up release, Horn Of Plenty (Black Top Records) “in a few months.”

Well, obviously it’s been more than a few months, but better late than never. I recently finished Gaines’ autobiography, I’ve Been Out There: On The Road With Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll (highly recommended, more “in a few months”), which jogged my memory about this release, so I pulled it off the shelf and gave it a spin for the first time in a while.

Released in 1992, four years after Full Gain, there are a few different faces this time around. Guitarist Roy Gaines (Grady’s brother) is not on hand for this release, but fortunately guitarists Anson Funderburgh and Clarence Hollimon both return. Vocalist/songwriter Joe Medwick sadly passsed away from cancer before recording began, but the band did record one of his songs, the rollicking “Have Fun, Baby.” Gaines’ bandleader/trumpeter Floyd Arceneaux also passed away prior to production (the album is dedicated to them both).

Big Robert Smith and piano man Teddy Reynolds both return as vocalists, while trombonist Paul David Roberts also takes the mic for a couple of tunes. The rhythm section is in good hands with Black Top stalwarts George Porter Jr. on bass, Herman Ernest III on drums, and Sammy Berfect on keyboards.
Roberts sings on four tracks, Jackie Wilson’s boisterous “Baby, Work Out,” which gets the disc started on a positive note, the aforementioned “Have Fun, Baby,” a lively track which Medwick recorded on Monument Records in 1965, and two of his own compositions, the energetic “Alligator Rock” and the mid-tempo soul burner “Looking For One Real Good Friend.” He has a commanding presence as a singer, covering a variety of styles.

Smith provides vocals for the shuffle “Walking With Robert,” which also features a strong solo from Funderburgh, and the Five Royales’ R&B classic “Baby, Don’t Do It,” while Reynolds has a fine old time on his own “My Baby Changed Me” (man, I wish he’d had an opportunity to do a whole album for Black Top). Gaines returns for another vocal track, this time an entertaining duet with Hollimon’s wife, Carol Fran, called “I’m Packin’ Up.”

The remaining five tracks are instrumentals, putting Gaines’ growling tenor sax front and center. The titles of each track really tell the story. “Upsetter” is a powerful rocker, “Stomp House Blues” has a bit of old school R&B feel, “G.G. Shuffle” is upbeat and swinging, and “Jumbo” is fast and furious. Gaines also covers the Stax Records standard “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,’ turning in a tremendous performance.

By the time, I finally made the switch to CDs back in the late ’90s, Black Top Records sadly went under, so I was forced to re-collect my favorites via other means, mostly eBay. Horn of Plenty was one of the first that I repurchased, and now that I’ve grabbed it off the shelf I will be listening to it quite a bit, as well as a few other Black Top gems I ran across while searching.

If you enjoy Houston blues and R&B with a touch of New Orleans spice, I recommend you check out Horn of Plenty.

--- Graham Clarke



[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: April 10, 2020 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2020, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.