Blues Bytes


August 2022

an associate

Order this album today


Silent Partners
Changing Times

Little Village Foundation

Silent Partners

If It’s All Night, It’s All Right, from the ensemble Silent Partners, was a forgotten blues gem from the late 1980s. The trio of longtime sidemen, which consisted of guitarist/keyboardist Mel Brown, drummer Tony Coleman, and bassist Russell Jackson, had backed a veritable Hall of Fame line-up over their careers, among them B.B. King, Albert King, Bobby Bland, Otis Clay, Johnnie Taylor, Albert Collins, Denise LaSalle, and Matt “Guitar” Murphy. Their collaboration offered them a rare opportunity to step into the spotlight, and the Silent Partners were more than up to the task. If you can find it, give it a listen.

Sadly, Brown, who released several excellent albums of his own over his long career, passed away in 2009 from emphysema complications, but Coleman and Jackson have continued to perform, record, and even release their own albums since their 1989 collaboration. Recently, Coleman got a call from Little Village Foundation’s Jim Pugh, who persuaded him to team up once again with Jackson and bring the Silent Partners back for an encore. They drafted guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Ellison to fill Brown’s shoes. Ellison is currently known as the new King of Beale Street and spent many years leading Denise LaSalle’s band, as well as backing soul-blues legend Latimore.

The new album, Changing Times (Little Village Foundation), includes ten tracks,with  nine originals and one cover. The trio is backed by Pugh (piano/organ), Kid Andersen (guitar), Don Dally (violin), Vicki Randle (congas), and Lisa Lueschner Andersen (vocals), and the session was recorded by Andersen at Greaseland, USA, produced by Pugh.

The opening track, “Ain’t No Right Way To Do Wrong,” is a well-crafted slow blues that reminds me a lot of those positive message songs that frequently found a home on the R&B charts in the early ’70s, particularly with the backing vocals and the use of strings. This would have certainly been a sweet fit among all those memorable tunes. “Post Traumatic Blues Syndrome” is a topical blues that focuses on the fear and dread of recent years, and the Memphis-styled “Road To Love” is a deep soul tune with a strong vocal from Ellison.

The album’s lone cover is of B.B. King and the Crusaders’ “Never Make Your Move Too Soon,” which Coleman prefaces with an amusing story of a King birthday party in Chicago (attended by Otis Clay, Albert King, Pervis Spann, and Bobby Bland) which led to Coleman and Jackson joining his band. Ellison punctuates the song with some stinging B.B. King fretwork and Coleman does a pretty good King impersonation.

The upbeat “Dancin’ Shoes” and “Proving Ground” deftly mix blues, funk, and R&B, while “Love Affair With The Blues” is a strong, mid-tempo soul-blues that reminds me of Malaco-era Little Milton with Ellison’s crisp guitar work. “Proving Ground” is a tightly wound funk/R&B number where Jackson and Coleman really lock into the groove, with Ellison tying it all together his fretwork.

Ellison’s guitar work recalls Albert King on the gritty “Teasing Woman,” and “Good To Myself” is an enthusiastic shuffle. The album closes with “Beale Street Shuffle,” a tribute to the legendary location played to the “Sweet Home Chicago”” melody.

It's a real treat to hear from the Silent Partners once again. Although it’s sad that Mel Brown is no longer around to participate, Ellison is a worthy successor and fills his shoes admirably. Changing Times is as good a set of blues as I’ve heard this year, and I hope the Partners don’t wait too long before giving us more of the same.

--- Graham Clarke



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


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: August 16, 2022 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2022, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.