Just Between Us
The inclusion of a "Surprise" feature in
was an idea I had when first designing the format of
the site. The intention was to highlight a lesser
known artist or an album that has flown under the
My selection for this feature in
the very first issue (December
1996) was a little-known Pennsylvania artist,
Clarence Spady, with his very fine CD, Nature
of the Beast. I called it a "gem of an album"
and said that Spady was "definitely an artist with a
good future in the blues."
Fast forward to now ... Spady is still out
there playing the blues, but he is not yet a
household name in the blues world. Perhaps his
latest CD, Just Between Us, will finally give
him the recognition he deserves. This is one of the
best albums I've heard in a while. It's funky, jazzy, and soulful.
If I can compare Spady to another blues artist, I'd
say that he's reminiscent of Robert Cray. I hesitate
to use this type of comparison at the risk of
unfairly labeling Spady as an imitator, because
nothing could be further from the truth. He's got
his own sound and his own style, with all 11 cuts on
Just Between Us being original compositions.
The disc opens with the Al Green-ish "I'll Never
Sell You Out," which gives the listener a taste of
just how good and tight Spady's backing band is, as
well as delivering the first of many tasteful guitar
solos by the star of the show. Spady is one of those
economical guitarists who plays just enough notes,
not needing to show his guitar studliness by
bludgeoning with excess.
"Enough Of You" gets a little more funky and
soulful, with a couple of nice B-3 breaks from
Benjie Porecki and a little harsher guitar picking
from Spady. "King of Hearts" picks up the pace,
giving Spady more of a chance to stretch out on
guitar with a variety of bluesy licks. This tune
leads into the anthemic "I'll Go," on which Spady
does his finest vocal work. It's one of the more
feelgood tunes on the disc.
Sax player Jacques Johnson steps into the spotlight
on the funky mid-tempo number "Cut Them Loose,"
while one of Spady's hotter guitar solos occupies a
prominent spot in the middle of the song. There's
one instrumental number on the disc, the more jazzy
"E-Mail" that's pretty much a vehicle for Spady's
guitar playing over the course of six minutes.
The disc closes with a funky blues, "Candy," with a
nice sax solo, likely from Frank Mitchell. Spady
says, "...Love my candy, baby, skin soft, silky and
smooth.. she's the only woman who knows how to put
me in that groove, she's the only woman who knows
how to keep me in that mood ..."
It's now time for the rest of the global blues
audience to find out about Clarence Spady. Just Between Us is already occupying a slot
my list of Top Ten discs for 2008. It
will undoubtedly still be there at the end of the
--- Bill Mitchell