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
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
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
--- Bill Mitchell