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December 1996

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Surprise

Clarence Spady
Nature Of The Beast
Evidence

There’s nothing as much fun as getting a new CD from an unknown performer, especially one from an area not generally recognized as a blues hotbed, and discovering a gem of an album. I had actually heard of Clarence Spady before, as he was included in a recent Living Blues’ feature on up-and-coming blues artists under the age of 40. Hailing from the Scranton, Pennsylvania area, Spady is a mainstay on the northeastern Pennsylvania blues circuit.

Nature Of The Beast is a fine contemporary blues album, with more than a hint of influence from James Brown. Spady has a good, raspy voice, not unlike that of Joe Louis Walker, and plays solid Freddy King-style guitar. The backup band, led by the horns of Tom “T Bone” Hamilton and Hammond organ from Mark Hamza, is a solid ensemble, complementing yet not overshadowing Spady. Half of the cuts on Nature Of The Beast are band originals, rounded out by good covers such as Son Seals’ “Bad Axe” and Robben Ford’s “Picture Of Love” (released by Ford as “Prison Of Love”). Another highlight is the jazzy instrumental “Blues Walk,” on which Spady sounds a lot like Gatemouth Brown. The best original is the uptempo blues “Answer To The Man.”

Clarence Spady is definitely an artist with a good future in the blues. Let’s hope he soon hooks on with a bigger blues label and starts touring through the rest of the country.

- Bill Mitchell

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