Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

May 2023

Alabama Mike
Stuff I've Been Through
Little Village Foundation

Alabama Mike

Alabama Mike has always been a very charismatic performer, truly one of the better blues singers currently practicing. He’s also a compelling songwriter whose style is unique and deeply honest, dealing with issues that strike close to home with nearly everyone who’s in the world today.

His latest effort, Stuff I’ve Been Through (Little Village Foundation), features 11 original tunes, nine of which were recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland USA in San Jose. The singer is backed by a powerhouse group of musicians which include four guitarists of note (Andersen, Bobby Young, Rusty Zinn, and Anson Funderburgh).

The title track opens the disc, a deep soulful blues with a powerful vocal from Mike and guitar work from Zinn. The funky “Fat Shame” appears in two parts (the second part near the conclusion of the album), with Mike testifying defiantly, but with good humor, that he’s happy with his shape, even if no one else is. These tracks reminded me of some of Lee “Shot” Williams’ tunes.

“This Ain’t No Dizneyland” is a moody track that states not all is as warm and cozy in California as advertised, and “Goodbye Tamika” is a soul burner that puts an end to a relationship going nowhere (nice work on tenor sax from Bernard Anderson).

“King Cock” is an update of those classic blues tunes about being the main rooster in the barnyard, and Funderburgh contributes his stinging fretwork on this track. On the sweaty blues rocker “Pine Bluff, Arkansas (Big Fine Woman),” Mike recounts his first love, telling an entertaining story in the process.

The next track, “Woman On The Warpath,” is more of a straight rocker with Young providing some sizzling guitar, and “Damage Control” is a fine slice of southern soul. Mike’s vocals are a tight fit to the various genres covered on the album.

The final two tracks were recorded live. The straight-ahead blues “Mississippi” was recorded at the Poor House Bistro in San Jose, with Andersen on guitar, Rick Estrin on harmonica, and lots of crowd participation encouraged by Mike. The moving gospel tune that closes the disc, “God Is With You,” was recorded at Groove Now (which looks like a really cool place) in Basel, Switzerland. Mike really demonstrates his vocal chops on this track (with Vicki Randle and Lisa Leuschner Andersen joining in) and I’m glad they included this track on the album.

If you’re into the blues at all, you definitely need to check out Alabama Mike if you haven’t already. He’s certainly one of the most dynamic and exciting vocalists around, whether he’s singing blues, soul, R&B, or gospel. He’s also an entertaining songwriter whose material is completely engaging.

Stuff I’ve Been Through is a disc that you need to add to your collection as soon as possible.

--- Graham Clarke


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