Blues Bytes


May 2018

Silent Partners
If It's All Night, It's All Right

Silent Partners

I recently unearthed a box of cassettes containing a whole bunch of my old radio shows from the 1980s and early 1990s. After copying them to digital files so that I can play them in the car, I've been revisiting songs from long ago that I liked an awful lot. One such album was on the lone album from a contemporary southern blues ensemble called Silent Partners.

Consisting of Mel Brown (vocals, guitar and keyboards), Russell Jackson (vocals, bass) and Tony Coleman (vocals, drums), these cats put out one killer blues disc back in 1989, If It's All Night, It's All Right, for the Antone's label out of Austin, Texas. Among the legendary blues artists that Brown, Jackson and Coleman had played with previously were B.B. King, Bobby, Bland, Otis Clay, and Katie Webster. In fact, the Silent Partners were formed to back Ms. Webster for a while. Joining in on this session were some of the regular Austin backing musicians from that era, such as guitarist Derek O'Brien, sax player Kaz Kazanoff, and others.

Kicking off this fine, fine album is the up-tempo band original, "Under Yonder," a blues instrumental that smokes from start to finish. One of the supreme cuts on If It's All Night, It's All Right is a version of the Robert Cray classic "Phone Booth." You should already be familiar with Cray's original version of this song, but just know that here Brown cranks out some incredible guitar licks. An interesting note is that Austin blues songstress Angela Strehli plays the part of the phone operator towards the end of the song.

Perhaps the highlight of the album is the Coleman-penned up-tempo shuffle, "I Didn't Know," containing an absolutely monster guitar solo from David Gonzalez of The Paladins. You'll know when it's his turn in the spotlight when Coleman cries out, 'DG, play it!'

The Silent Partners pay tribute to Bobby Bland with excellent versions of a couple of his classic tunes, "I Don't Want No Woman" and "Two Steps From The Blues." Brown shows that he learned quite a lot about Texas soulful blues during his more than a decade in Mr. Bland's band, especially on the latter number which he turns into an instrumental showcase for his exquisite guitar playing. Brown also gets to show off on the jazzy instrumental "Cleo's Back," both on guitar and piano.

It It's All Night, It's All Right has been long out of print. While hard to find, it's not impossible. Trust me, the search will be worth it.

--- Bill Mitchell




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