Blues Bytes

July 2005

line.jpg (778 bytes)

  What's New

Nine LivesNine Lives is appropriately the 9th album for Sacramento group Little Charlie and the Nightcats on the Alligator label (not counting the compilation Deluxe Edition). Like many past releases, this latest has a personality of its own. They’ve always been a quartet with co-leaders Charly Baty on guitar and Rick Estrin as frontman / harmonicist / vocalist / songwriter. Their rhythm section has employed different names during the group’s evolution and sometimes this has inspired the variance in the aforementioned personality. Having seen the group live numerous times, I can attest to their pure party potential. They seem to kick ass best when other groups booked on the same bill are also happening, and I’ve detected defeat in a competitive atmosphere. They are a full-time road band specializing in festivals, they feed back crowd energy, and their recorded output seems to document their adventures. Their recordings are based in simple, standard blues forms with good variety. CDs are sometimes totally solid, at other times start with promise and taper off. It sounds like with Nine Lives they have graduated from the ‘50s shuffle/jump genre into ‘60s novelties, remaining clever rather than turning corny. Rick Estrin’s songwriting holds it all together during a mixed program of rhythms and tempos that almost hold back the energy, but in the end prove to pull back the groove, keeping it in the pocket or “hookin’ it up” to quote recent audience reaction. We begin by dancing the twist loosely, and describing people we all know, “Keep Your Big Mouth Shut.” “Handle With Care” is up-tempo but never heats sufficiently. Chromatic harmonica and a too-short guitar solo, never to the breaking point, combine with Estrin’s overly blatant double-entendre lyrics. Vintage Country-Western pop leads to Cuban/Calypso in ascending order, “Got To Have A Job” is my favorite of the collection. “Circling The Drain” is desperate depression at its finest, certainly a funeral dirge. You’ve got Smiley Lewis New Orleans pop next with inventive, strange processing on the background vocals. Liner notes are absent and unnecessary, as music should always speak for itself. But when studying the graphics closely, one will notice the inspiration behind track seven, “Cool Johnny Twist:” Not to give away the ending, let us just say some of the elements of this Chicago theme include “Old Dusty’s records...the Best Black XXX-Rated Adult Movies...Meet & greet Abbot High Priest and spiritual eader activist Bro. Bekitemba...Shalom, Please Come Again and Bring a Friend.” Charlie always includes guitar workout numbers in his program. Here it’s on “Tag, Your It” where his affinity for guitarist Charlie Christian (let me suggest an even more obscure guitarist, Tiny Grimes) again comes to life in two solos. But again, his potential is far from exhibited. Slow blues “Quittin’ Time” refers to living arrangement, not the job. Drummer J. Hansen sings lead on a rocker, a rocking shuffle for Estrin’s Little Walter instrumental style follows. Concluding tracks have not-so-profound lyrics back-timed to a surfing grinder instrumental finally displaying Charlie’s raw guitar sound. The California-recorded production sounds warm and there are guest musicians on piano and saxes, as well as Rusty Zinn’s guitar addition. As an introduction to the sound of Little Charlie and the Nightcats, this may not serve as the most-recommended disc, but it is better than some of their past releases. To those who follow the group, it works well as the next unpredicted twist or turn of their odyssey.

---Tom Coulson
Radio broadcaster/musician
comments to

Ronnie Earl and Duke RobillardOriginally from New York City, Ronnie Earl discovered the blues while attending college in Boston. Inspired by Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, and Otis Rush, Earl achieved fame as the replacement guitarist for Duke Robillard in Roomful of Blues. Earl has also enjoyed a successful solo career with The Broadcasters. In 1967, Robillard founded Roomful of Blues. Since then, he has leaded his own bands, and replaced Jimmie Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Since joining Stony Plain in 2001, Robillard’s output has been plentiful. He has released seven CDs, and has produced (and played on) a number of projects for Stony Plain. Between the two six-stringers, they have won six W.C. Handy Awards as “Blues Guitarist of the Year.” The 72-minute disc, The Duke Meets The Earl (Stony Plain), features eight hearty jam songs which average nine minutes in length. Robillard sums it up best: “This album takes us both back to the old days, …, jamming the blues.” Earl wrote two while Robillard penned one. The remainders are covers from the likes of T-Bone Walker, Magic Sam, Walter Price, Eddie Taylor, and B.B. King. Primarily, this is an instrumental CD, although guest Mighty Sam McClain adds soul transforming vocals and Robillard attempts to sing a couple songs. The rest of the band is comprised of ex-Roomful of Blues and current Robillard band members. Jimmy McGriff makes a special appearance on B3. “West Side Shuffle” trundles up and down the fret board. Robillard definitely has a Walker hue to him during the song. Earl’s solo is more relaxed and hypnotic. The trance becomes frantic as he whips his guitar into shape. The fun really begins when these two start exchanging intertwined licks. Except for guitar enthusiasts, the first two minutes of “Two Bones & A Pick” are slow and uneventful. However, things are swinging for the remainder. Here, the acoustic bass takes a whacking, while the drummer keeps these guys on time. “What Have I Done Wrong” is a standout. Here, Earl and Robillard push each other along a free flowing canal which is levied with nostalgic rhythm. Listen to Earl’s heartbreaking slide weeps on “Zeb’s Thing.” It is so sad, it is sweet. You are transported to ’50s and ’60s Chicago while both guitarists demonstrate the best tone of the CD. Earl is the more spiritual of the two. Perhaps “A Soul That’s Been Abused” is self-reflective of his own tortured soul. In its on cruel way, the song goes on too long. However, Earl’s super sensitive guitar is brilliant. Why McClain and other guest vocalists weren’t given additional duties is beyond me. Like an Allman Brothers Band concert, the incessant guitar solos can become monotonous. This is a good album, but not as good as I thought it was going to be. Both Earl and Robillard are guitar masters who are more creative under their own domains. The mostly instrumental format will appeal to a limited audience, but this will surely land both guitarists a spot for best guitarist on many a ballot.

--- Tim Holek
Freelance Journalist/Photographer

OB BucanaWhen we talk about the newcomers on the southern soul scene, the young folks that are taking over for the sadly departed stars of the past decade, O.B. Buchana ranks right up there with Sir Charles Jones, Sheba Potts-Wright along with several others as heirs to the Johnnie Taylor/Tyrone Davis Chitlin Circuit thrones. The Chitlin Circuit is loosely defined as the clubs and juke joints where blues and soul are regularly performed before a live audience, says Arkabutla, Mississippi's Ricky Stevens. He continues: "The phase evokes images of funky music in smoke filled rooms, filled with people drinking and dancing and just having a good time. It also commonly evokes feelings of a bygone era, but The Chitlin Circuit is more than a memory. Today rainbow-shaded posters on light poles advertise "Big Blues Shows" with headliners like Denise LaSalle, Marvin Sease, Bobby Rush, Carl Sims and O.B. Buchana. Radio stations play hits by Taylor, Davis and O.V. Wright along with hits by J. Blackfoot, Sheba Potts-Wright and her daddy "Dr. Feelgood" Potts, and constantly run advertisements for upcoming shows. The shows still sell out. The radio stations still play the music continuously and the people still cannot get enough of their blues. The Chitlin Circuit is as alive as it has ever been, with some of it's best music ever being created and performed today." Thanks Ricky for that great description. Ecko's newest release titled On The Chitlin Circuit (Ecko 1070), from which much of the above information was gleaned, contains 14 great tracks that typify much of the music just described, and this new O.B. Buchana release, I Can't Stop Drinkin' (Ecko Records), that I am reviewing is a prime example of this music at it's finest and freshest. The CD opens with a stirring tribute to Tyrone Davis, titled "A Stage In The Sky," along with the stepper "I Can't Stop Drinkin'," a song many can relate to. There are some fine sweet soul ballads, such as "I'm Gonna Stand Up By Your Side" and "It Don't Have To Be That Way" to balance the mix on this very enjoyable Chitlin' Circuit contender. Ecko gives us another prime example of their craft at it's best.

Donnie RayLooking at the picture on the booklet for I'll Be Good To You (Ecko Records), Donnie Ray has a huge smile on his face. It's probably because he is now with the good cats at Ecko Records and has upgraded his career to the max. I'll Be Good To You is a perfect example of where contemporary southern soul is at now. There is a good mix of dance tunes and a few sweet soul ballads added to the mix to ensure that it will get lots of airplay and rank among the year's better releases in this genre. Donnie Ray broke onto the soul/blues scene in 2000 with the fine Susie Q Records release Let's Go Dancing, which was followed by Are You Ready For Me. As good as those releases were, this one is better, probably because of the maturity of the artist as a songwriter and singer. Ecko gives us a great sounding release that matches the best they have offered to date. Whether it is the danceable "Bottoms Up Again," with its shake your booty themes or the sweet sounds of "Forever This Love," with its great double-tracked vocals, this release is a winner all the way. Four deep bows to Donnie and the folks at Ecko.

Heaven DavisHeaven Davis is a new discovery for me and I can say without reservation, she will be a star. Her new CD, Steamy (Whildchild Davis Records), was recommended to me by several folks whom I have a lot of respect for, and I now owe them a debt of gratitude. This release is a mix of jazz, blues and soul, with the latter two comprising most of the 14 tracks. She has sung with Buddy Guy, Walter Trout, Bob Margolin, Kenny Neal, E.G. Kight (who penned the title song of this CD) and many others. Heaven was pinned with the name "Wildchild" by a group of students at Georgia Tech's WREK radio station, where she was co-host and founder of the "Lady Katherine's Big Booty Power House Blues Show" in honor of all female blues performers. The first track, "Heartless," one of three tunes penned by Tommy Dean, is an upbeat tune that could have been covered by Loretta Lynn and sets the highest level for the remaining 13 tracks that follow. All the songs are well-written and interesting, and the fine production and musicianship is apparent from the start. No synthesizers to be found here. Thank you, thank you. "Dead Letter File" is another fun song with the obvious lyrics: "I'm gonna file your letter in the dead letter file." The fourth track, "Sell My Jewelry" (a Heaven Davis original), is a real show stopper, with a bit of spoken jive over a great guitar intro. It catches your attention with its jump rhythms and is a great contrast to the countrified blues opening of the E.G. Kight tune "Steamy." One of my favorite tracks is "Regrets," a wonderful song that sounds like it came off a Gladys Knight album circa her "Midnight Train To Georgia" period. I just love the bluesy "Tappin On My Window Pane" and the very soulful "Nobody Knows." This is one of the more polished and professional indies I have heard in quite some time. I wish Heaven all the best with this release and hope that it gets the recognition it deserves. You can find it at This one should make everyone's top ten.

Dorothy MooreFor me, each new Dorothy Moore release is like receiving a letter from an old friend or family member that you haven't heard from in a while. It is a letter that makes you smile and feel warm all over. I was a fan of Dorothy Moore BEFORE "Misty Blue." In fact I bought her first album with The Poppies, titled Lullaby of Love, in 1966 when it first came out. It wasn't until many years later that I got to meet her here in Phoenix at The Rhythm Room. For those in attendance we knew that we had seen someone special, perhaps the finest singer we had ever seen there. I looked forward to those wonderful Malaco releases like "Feel The Love", which we all did, and then there was that long R&B studio void of eight years until this new 2005 release I'm Doing Alright (Farish Street Records). Well I have to say that Dorothy is back and her many adoring fans are in for a treat. The title song, "I'm Doing Alright," and "All Because of You" were given to Dorothy to record by the late Johnny Vincent's daughter Lynn Palmer. Johnny owned the Jackson, Mississippi-based Ace Records (think Huey Smith and Bobby Marchan) and always wanted to record Dorothy. "What You Doing With The Money" is a track we all can relate to. It is followed by an upbeat "My Man Is In Town." "Single Mother" is a song honoring those gallant women out there. The great songwriter George Jackson contributed "Must Be Another Woman Involved." Dorothy decided to record a tribute to the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith, with her "Do Your Duty." She credits her with paving the way for women singers like herself. When you hear "You Don't Love Me" you will think of Ray Charles and the Raylettes. Dinah Washington's classic "What A Difference A Day Makes" is given an updated more upbeat sound by Dorothy. It is sort of a cross between Washington's and Esther Phillips' version. A song that will go on forever. In closing, Dorothy has given us an updated version of a song she recorded in 1986, the great gospel tune "What Is This?" by the late Reverend Willie Morganfield. It is a song from Dorothy's childhood years of singing in the church. It is her gift to all of her R&B fans. Thank you Dorothy for that thought, and for this beautiful new gift you have given us all. You can check out Dorothy's site at

--- Alan Shutro

Over the past few years, James Blood Ulmer has moved away from his longtime association with free jazz guitar, and has fully embraced the blues. Already regarded as a guitar legend, Ulmer, assisted by fellow freestyle guitarist Vernon Reid, has branched out into the blues with two excellent albums, one recorded in Memphis (Memphis Blood) and the other in New York (No Escape From The Blues), both of which featured Ulmer's unique interpretations of some blues classics. Ulmer returns with yet another foray into the blues, this time as a soloist (with Reid producing) playing mostly original compositions. Birthright (Hyena Records) offers a great look at one of the most distinctive voices in blues guitar. His voice, which rumbles and quakes with a natural vibrato, sounds like it belongs on those old scratchy '30s Paramount records and forms an appealing combination with his modern, freeform guitar work, which mixes the blues with healthy doses of funk, jazz, and rock. While there may not be a lot of your favorite blues licks featured here, as always, Ulmer's guitar sounds like the notes were pulled from his very soul, which is pretty much what the blues is all about, isn't it? Of the 12 songs featured on Birthright, ten are originals (the two covers are Willie Dixon's "I Ain't Superstitious" and the Mississippi Sheiks' "Sittin' On Top Of The World"). The music here is sometimes ethereal, sometimes mesmerizing, but always gripping. Highlights include "The Evil One," a reworking of Ulmer's "Where Did All The Girls Come From," and "I Can't Take It Anymore." My favorite track is “Geechee Joe,“ which tells the story of Ulmer’s grandfather, who was definitely a man ahead of his time.  If you're not familiar with James Blood Ulmer, Birthright is as good a place as any to start. Ulmer is taking the blues to places that it's never been before, with sometimes spectacular, always interesting results.

Piano man Detroit Jr. has long been regarded as one of the more distinctive voices on the Chicago scene. The author of such memorable tunes as "If I Hadn't Been High," "Money Tree," and "Call My Job," Detroit Jr. (whose real name is Emery Williams, Jr.) served for years in Howlin' Wolf's band, made a memorable appearance on Alligator’s Living Chicago Blues anthology, and has made several albums for Blue Suit Records since the mid 90's, which featured his gravelly vocals, witty original lyrics, and his solid barrelhouse boogie keyboards to fine effect. Delmark Records does the honors for Williams' latest release, Blues on the Internet. Despite the nod to modern times in the title, Blues on the Internet is strictly throwback Chicago blues, with plenty of West Side guitar from such Windy City luminaries as Lurrie Bell, Jimmy Dawkins, and Maurice John Vaughn in support. There are 15 songs featured here, with 13 original compositions (plus a remake of "Call My Job" with Zora Young serving as foil). The originals, such as "Hot Pants Baby," "Weak Spot," "Money Crazy," and "Somebody Better Do Something," are winners for the most part. On the covers, Williams does a fine job on Lowell Fulson's "Rockin' After Midnight," and the old chestnut, "Messin' With The Kid" is adequate, but not awesome.  In addition, there's a brief interview with Williams at the end of the disc and a QuickTime clip of him performing "Hot Pants Baby." There's nothing groundbreaking here, just some good old Chicago blues played like they used to do it 40 or 50 years ago by a guy who has been cranking it out for nearly that long and is still near the top of his game.

Terry RobbTerry Robb is a name that is probably not a familiar one to some blues fans, but he’s been on the scene since the ’80s, producing and appearing on several albums by the late guitar legend John Fahey before setting out on his own in the ’90s. Since then he has recorded several fine albums on the Burnside label, which put his wondrous acoustic and electric guitar chops front and center, and appeared on or produced numerous other recordings during that span. Recently, Robb signed with the Memphis label, Yellow Dog Records, and they have issued his latest, Resting Place, which finds the guitar slinger recording in Sam Phillips’ studio in Memphis for selected tracks under the watchful eyes and ears of legendary engineer Roland James. Robb is also joined on several tracks by several prominent Memphis-area musicians, including drummer Willie Hall (The Bo-Keys, Isaac Hayes, The Blues Brothers), bassist Paul Taylor of the North Mississippi Allstars, and keyboardist Charlie Wood (B. B. King, The Bo-Keys). While the band tracks really cook, especially on tracks like Big Boy Crudup’s “My Baby Left Me” and Chuck Berry’s “Back To Memphis,” and the title cut, an instrumental that showcases Robb’s slide guitar, Robb‘s solo tracks (which were recorded in Portland, Oregon) are really what grab you. “Madison Avenue Shuffle,” “Hesitation Blues/Knowing What Blues,” “Cassie,“ and Robb’s own “Like Merle” are just breathtaking to behold, and these tracks pay tribute to several of Robb‘s influences, including Reverend Gary Davis, Merle Travis, and John Fahey. Robb also does a very impressive job on Fahey’s “Joe Kirby Blues” and closes out the disc with a delightfully funky cover of Booker T. & the MGs’ “My Sweet Potato.“  Resting Place is a great, beautifully produced set of acoustic blues guitar with a healthy dose of Memphis soul mixed in, a delicious combination.  Don’t miss this one.

The John-Earl Walker Band is a blues/rock band that features John-Earl Walker, who’s been playing guitar since the ’60s, most notably with the band Plum Nelly, who recorded for Capitol in the ’70s. After Plum Nelly’s breakup in the mid ’70s, Walker has toiled in relative obscurity, but still playing, writing songs, and singing around the New York area.  He resurfaced in 2002 with the self-released album, Little Miss Perfect, which features 12 original compositions and some scorching guitar at times reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan, but also shows traces of some of his guitar heroes including Freddie King, Albert King, Magic Sam, and T-Bone Walker. Walker is also an effective singer and the band provides rock-solid support. Standout tracks on Little Miss Perfect include “Hurricane,” “You Let Me Down,” “Last Time Out,” and the title track. Walker subsequently released I’m Leavin’ You, which features fewer band members, but doesn’t lose any of the band’s muscular sound in the process.  Walker’s outstanding fretwork is still the catalyst, but there are some pretty good songs on this disc as well, including the title track, “My First Guitar,” “Second Hand Man,” “I Put You First,“ and “The Last Time.”  Fans of blues/rock in the Hendrix/SRV vein will want to give these two fine discs a listen. They are available at the band’s website,

--- Graham Clarke

Aaron AlnightUniqueness is something I’m always searching for in my music. This penchant for the out of the ordinary certainly doesn’t end before the blues. Case in point: Aaron Alnight. This gifted singer-songwriter from Texas breaks down all the general public’s understanding (or should I say misunderstanding) of the blues. On Alnight’s latest Devil In Disguise we get an earful of this one of a kind artist. Alnight couples his wicked blues/soul picking with his smooth bass vocals through 11 cuts of superbly recorded material. Only on one tune is there any accompaniment. The wistful tune "Reminds Me Of Lovin’ You" features extra guitar work by Rene Lawrence and viola by David Mills. The time we spend with Alnight’s music makes us feel like we’re sitting in his living room, a group of friends being entertained with a brandy glass in one hand and our ears fixated on the sounds emanating from his guitar. This scenario fits well in Alnight’s mission in music when he talks about how as a child he would watch his father and friends sit around playing music and swapping songs. This early exposure to music certainly boded well on Alnight who asked his mother at a young age for a guitar. At 29, Alnight has been able to accomplish a style that most musicians try a lifetime to attain. On the lead off track Alnight shows us his guitar mastery by picking a well-known theme song from the giant of kids entertainment that beautifully transforms into "Fairy Princess." The title track "Devil in Disguise" establishes some great double guitar duty by Alnight surrounded by some tasty lyrics. A quick note about the subject matter. Be warned. This is most definitely adult material as you will have no trouble realizing when listening to tunes like "Devil in a Bottle" and "Straight to Hell" with it’s non discreet charms. Truly a different bend on the blues supplied by Aaron Alnight. For further information on Alnight and to order online go to My Texas Music CD Baby or CD Tex. You can also hear samples. Good Listening.

Bill Campton hasn’t traveled far from the early days of rock and the reverb drenched rockabilly that was at the forefront during those times for his new release, Firebug, on Campsong Music, and that suits me fine. As I’m always discovering on my journey through today’s blues nothing is exempt from being called the blues when the passion and feeling that come from this true American art form is felt through one’s music. Bill Campton understands this as he explores not only rockabilly but also every genre of our world’s musical tapestry through 10 tunes encased in the sound of the blues. Not only does Campton understand this but all vocals, instruments and lyrics are a solo venture that would leave lesser players in Campton’s musical dust. Obviously the production credits go to Campton considering this recording was done in his own place, Dining Room Studio, named for, as one would imagine, in his home dining room. Campton’s love of folk and early American roots find their place on this disc through Campton’s choice of banjo found on most of the tunes especially "Far Side of the Moon," with an intro of that unmistakable picking sound one associates with bluegrass or Appalachian music. Campton’s rockabilly side shines on the joyful song "I Wanna Have Fun" and "Rock Me Baby." Campton’s vocals come close at times to a more understandable Tom Waits but work well for this likable and polished disc. Bill Campton and his wife Susan Campton, an accomplished musician in her own right, can be found at CDBaby. This link will take you to Bill Campton’s page then you can type in Susan’s name at the top of the page search and peruse her brand of folk if you desire.

--- Bruce Coen

Bisbee, Arizona’s own Buzz & the Soul Senders burst on the Arizona blues scene by winning the 2003 Arizona Blues Showdown and headed to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Challenge. A year later their self-produced CD, Shame the Devil, reflects the maturity of a band that learned their lessons well. Musically the Soul Senders are at the top of their game on this recording. Buzz Pearson leads the way with his vocals and harp playing backed by his wife Eileen, and Danielle Parsons on vocals. Joe Reyes does an exceptional job on lead guitar and the rhythm section of Sam Panther on drums and Cordell Dentler on bass guitar is very tight. A lack of liner notes prevents me from giving appropriate credit for the songwriting skills of the drummer, Sam Panther, but the songs that fans of the Soul Senders appreciate from guitarist Joe Reyes, "Santeria Baby" and "Monsoon Rain," are on the disc. The songs that Sam wrote I believe are "Weight of the World" and "Always," both wonderful ballads. Probably no song better captures the fun and spirit of the Soul Senders than "Bisbee Shuffle" … a cute ditty about the life of changing relationships in a small town. If you’ve heard the Soul Senders live you’ll know what I’m talking about. Shame the Devil is an excellent representation of the music of Buzz and his cast of characters and a disc that every fan of Arizona blues should own. Contact Buzz via e-mail at to order your copy of Shame the Devil; you’ll be glad you did.

Crazy but Live in Houston is the current release of this year’s International Blues Challenge Winner, Diunna Greenleaf and the Blue Mercy Band. Crazy but Live represents all that is right and wrong with blues today. It’s a live bootleg recording that Diunna had to sue in court to win back the rights to, but it’s a wonderful live album. Diunna’s roots are in gospel music and her voice reflects the deep soulful passion of a gospel singer, reminiscent of a young Koko Taylor for its depth and power. The Blue Mercy Band features the IBC’s Albert King award winner Jonn Richardson on guitar, Larry “Lownote” Johnson on bass and Michael LeFebvre on drums. Together they form a very tight musical compliment to Diunna’s impressive vocals. Crazy but Live in Houston features two original songs, "Calling Blue Mercy" and "Crazy," as well as nine covers. Highlights include the Willie Dixon song, "Built for Comfort," "Black Cat Bone" by Hop Wilson, the gospel "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "Born Under a Bad Sign" by one of Diunna’s major influences, Albert King. For a live recording the production of this disc is very impressive and gives us a hint of great things to come. Diunna has been in the wings nationally for a number of years now and her win at the IBC represents a coming out party for Blue Mercy. This particular disc is available from Diunna through her website,, but hopefully soon Blue Mercy will be signed to a national recording contract and get the chance to record a studio album of their own. It will be worth the wait.

--- Kyle Deibler

Steve ArveyChicago Bluesman Steve Arvey has just finished another very successful tour of Australia, and whilst there he took time out to record an album with Australian musician  Pete Cornelius – the result is the very entertaining Freerange (BGM). Of the 12 tracks included on the CD, Steve Arvey wrote seven of them (one in conjunction with King Soloman), Pete Cornelius wrote one, Arvey’s long-time friend Kraig Kenning contributed one, one is a tradional blues (“When I Get Drunk") and the remaining track is an old Tommy Johnson number, "Big Road.” The resulting mix is pretty intoxicating, with Steve Arvey’s very distinctive voice providing some interesting vocals, accompanied by vocal harmonies by Jim Reeves on a couple of tracks (no, not THAT Jim Reeves!!). The album opens with an Arvey song, “Faith,” a compelling, slow blues ballad that sounds as though it tells the story of part of  his life. Listening to this track, with some excellent rhythm section work by Phil Wilson on bass & Matt Neil on drums, just makes you want more. Another Arvey original, “Something To Lose,” follows, and it sounds as though it’s a ‘part two’ follow up to “Faith” with more of his life unfolding through the track. The third track on this CD is written by Kraig Kenning, a long time associate of Steve’s Arvey’s – they produced a superb album together, Pass The Hat, in 1997. This is a slow, moody, ballad with some absolutely beautiful slide work on it – and the whole band sound so relaxed. The track co-written by Steve Arvey & King Soloman, "Proverbs," follows. Pete Cornelius showcases here on dobro, and it really adds to this track giving it a totally different flavour. Pete also plays his dobro on the Tommy Johnson song “Big Road” a little later in the album. The traditional “When I Get Drunk” brings us back up to speed, and Steve Arvey and the boys really make a good job of it. However, just when your feet are tapping nicely, the music slips back into slow and moody with another nice ballad, an Arvey original “The Pain Is Gone.” Track 7, “The Picture” is, to my mind, very Australian in its feeling. It puts me in mind of songs by the Australian band Men At Work. I’m not really sure that it fits in with the rest of the tracks, but it’s still good music, and worth listening to – maybe Steve’s nod to the Australian musicians. By the time we get to the Arvey-written “Cabo Sunset,” things are getting into a nice laid-back mood, and it carries on with “Two Roads,” a track written by Phil Manning. These two tracks are really excellent late night listening, full of feeling with some lovely instrumental breaks. This is a CD well worth getting your hands on – it’s well-written, well-played, and nicely different.

--- Terry Clear

The 1990 concert video, In Concert (Inakustik/Music Video Distributors), featuring Johnny "Guitar" Watson, with the exception of a brief and ill thought rap episode, is great and fun Watson material. The funky guitar antics that made Watson an inspiration to Frank Zappa are relegated to a minor portion of the set, now, but the talent and spirit is definitely there. With a run time of 75 minutes, this dvd includes such Watson classics as "Superman Lover", "A Real Mother For Ya", and "Gangster of Love". Do not watch this disk without taking in the best part, an extended live version of "Gangster of Love" from 1987 included as bonus material.

The DVD Gimme Some Lovin': Live 1966 (Cherry Red Films/Music Video Distributors), spotlighting The Spencer Davis Group, has two major portions. The first is an excellent set of classic British rock. The eight songs include an interview subtitled in Dutch. This raunchy power blues set includes "Dust My Blues," "I'm a Man," and "Georgia on my Mind." This is the original lineup, including the Winwood brothers. The second half of the DVD, with only some of the narration translated, is the post-Winwood group in 1967 presenting a very candid, even goofy, side to the seminal group.

--- Tom Schulte

Upcoming CDs to be reviewed include Paul Oscher, The Mighty Mike Schermer Band, and the Chicago Blues Harmonica Project. Check back next month for reviews of those great discs.


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

The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: June 30, 2005 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2005, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.