Linda Valori hails from Italy, and yes the blues and R&B influenced music is as hot as a stalled train on the ‘El’ in the summer heat. Why the ‘El’ well, there’s a relation with Chicago and Ms.Valori. This release was recorded, mixed and mastered at JoyRide Recording studio in Chi-town and features a solid core of hard cut Chicago musicians on this release. It will be available March 24, 2013 distributed through City Hall Records and also available on Amazon.com.
The title track is a somewhat obscure Van Morrison song, from his 1995 release. It is an interesting song because it turns around the old adage that when things are bad momma would say there’d be days like this into “When all the parts of the puzzle start to seem like they fit / Then I must remember there’ll be days like this.”. ‘Days Like This’ kicks out the stall with a solid R&B groove, with horns, piano roll intro and it just shakes & shimmies from there. Ms. Valori has an interesting voice, strong but with just enough of a raspy edge to give her the feel for the songs she selects to cover.
Funky as it wants to be is Ike Turner’s ‘I Idolize You’. Featuring Chicago blues man Mike Wheeler laying out a scorching lead track over a very serious rhythm of Keith Henderson (guitar) Billy Dickens (bass), Khari Parker on drums. There is a clamant pleading force to the vocals and it makes us believe the words sung. This is one of the two covers of Ike’s music, the other being ‘The Way You Love Me’ is a more traditional shuffle roll done with an understanding of what it takes to create the sound and beat.
Chicago singer/songwriter Deitra Farr’s tune ‘My Turn My Time’ is done with equal aplomb. With an ‘in-your-face’ approach to the rhythm and vocals we are left with no doubt that this is truly her turn and her time.
There are a couple of surprises contained withing the sleeve of the CD, one is a cover of Chrissie Hynde’s ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ which is a reggae styled version that creates a fresh approach to a well known song. The other is a somewhat slowed down, sultry version of the Janis Joplin classic ‘Move Over’ – I got to admit it takes big cajones to go there, and with the treatment of stylized funk and R&B overtones it maintains it’s familiarity but is heard with new ears.
This is a release of twelve well chosen covers that feature Ms. Valori’s ample vocal abilities and the solid soul sound of the band and players around her. The choice of players is very important when crossing over genres, Ms. Valori has chosen some of the best around the world. Solid horn arrangements by Doug Cocoran bring the sizzle, and Luca Giordano, who hails from Italy but, spent many years in Chicago adds strong guitar flair on ‘So Doggone Good’.
It is great to know that the Blues is thriving around the world and there is a market for the music – now if we can only amp it up here in it’s birthplace we could be on to something.
Andy T – Nick Nixon Band: Drink Drank Drunk (Delta Groove Music)
Speaking of geography, what we have here is a quick lesson in how the music can create a spirit of cooperation and unity far and wide. The far here is Andy T, who cut his guitar playing teeth in SoCal with various bands, then hooked up with Houston’s Guitar Shorty for several years and is now living in Nashville and this is his ‘debut’ release.
Nashville is where Nick Nixon calls home, always has been. Nick is recipient of a Blues Foundation ‘Keeping The Blues Alive Award’ for his educational efforts. He is also in possession of one helluva voice, and this paring makes it all the more obvious as he shines throughout.
The wide here has to be the state of Texas. This release is produced, and features, Anson Funderberg, a Lone Start State son who brings it all together in a giant hand and hip shakin’ experience.
The title track ‘Drink Drank Drunk’ features a slow burning stroll thru the usual episodes of one’s affection with alcohol. But I have to say that if the results of over use is as good as the music here depicting it is – then next rounds on me. Featuring Mr. Funderberg picking apart the guitar to the rock-steady beat of Mr. Jim Klingler’s drums add a dash of saxophone to top it off by Mr. Ron Jones and it creates a tempting and quite satisfying concoction that would rival a superb Bloody Mary any time of day. Thanks to Tom Hambridge and Gary Nicholson for writing such a cool tune!
With the proximity to Louisiana to Tennessee (and Texas) we get a dose of that style of music in the musical question, ‘Have You Seen My Monkey’. With some rolling accordion by Chistian Dozzler (who also plays piano on several tracks) and very tasty and educated riffs on guitar by Andy T, showing that he is adaptable and proficient at whatever style is needed. But if ya listen closely there is an undeniable rock and roll back beat to his playing on this track which takes it to the next level.
Getting into the ‘blues’ feel we have ‘No End To The Blues’ is a straight ahead burner that features Andy laying it out on the fret-board making for certain that there is no end of these blues in sight. Mr. Nixon’s vocal is deep and resonant, his voice really does reach out and touch the listener. Horns, piano help fill out this track and some inspired background vocals by Nashville deliciously talented Markey creates and full force attack on the senses and they ride the wave of sound to the climax.
A very nice addition is the cover of the classic ‘High Heeled Sneakers’ by legendary artist Tommy Tucker. Up beat, with a steady rock ‘n’ roll swing to it, the band displays an understanding of the songs history and applies it accordingly with just enough ‘twang’ to make it new and fresh.
If you want to hear another super cover – check out their bayou flavored version of the Ray Charles classic ‘I Got A Woman’. Straight from the deck of a pirogue, we shake, rattle and roll our way through a brand spank new version of this classic track that displays the joy of having such a woman.
Originally slated to be Mr. T’s (hah hah hah, sorry Andy) solo debut, but when these two cats got together and started playing it became more than that. ‘Drink Drank Drunk’ reflects the abilities of these two artists individually and proves that the equation 1 plus 1 equals more than the sum of its parts.
Visit Andy at www.andytband.com and say hi from me.
Pam Taylor Band: Hot Mess (Independant)
Final stop on our geographic blues tour is South Carolina, yep that hot bed of the blues. Well in this case it’s a Hot Mess of blues provided by a young guitar slinging lady Pam Taylor.
Starting out with a solo guitar riff (that recalls ‘Who Knows’ by Hendrix and some others) and then joined by horns aplenty we get ‘Smile Again’. Ms. Taylor’s young gun-slinging guitarist, Kyle Phillips, voraciously attacks the six strings and wrings out any note he pleases. With the support of Ms. Taylor’s dad, Mike, and rest of the band they work the track to its maximum return on investment.
Title track ‘Hot Mess’ is upbeat and funky with Dad, blowing smoke out of the business end of that sax as Pam growls her vocals about this lady who is a walking “Hot Mess” and not in the good way. Living life hard and fast, over perfumed and under satisfied there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel but it’s the train coming at her. What is the oft’ repeated definition of insanity – repeatedly doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result – well this is the portrait of the lady in this song.
‘Not the Only One’ is a torch burner that has our heroine explaining the straight up truth to her man concerning exclusivity of relationship. Ms. Taylor’s vocals feature a latent sadness yet a undercurrent of prayer contained deep within them. There is an inevitability as to the outcome, but a glimmer of hope – really, why can’t we go on as three? Folks the Blues is all about misogyny, at least on it’s good days, and Mr. Phillips’ guitar torching at the end burns deep within the soul of the blues.
Yet on the other hand (is a fist) giving us ‘Next Time You Think of Cheating’. Guitar driven, crispy and gritty vocals portrays what it is like to be the odd girl out. But not in the Lesley Gore, it’s my party style of the past. More current and pointed she promises that he is gonna pay for his transgressions and pay in spades*. If the retribution that Ms. Taylor has in mind for her former man is anything as fierce as the guitar work he better head where the sun don’t shine. I quote “I took the house, I took the car; without no money baby you ain’t going too far. I took the kids I even took your boat…” She ends up mimicking his emasculated pleas of “oh baby, I can’t believe you took the boat” and continues to rip him a new one in plain sight of all who would watch this event.
Overall this is a solid rookie release by an up and coming new talent in our house. She excels at the arranging aspect and her song writing shows promise. It is full of life and passion and after all ain’t that what the blues is all about. She is currently a Pick to Click in SiriusXM Bluesville so others have taken notice of her talents also.
Visit Ms. Taylor here http://www.pamtaylorband.com/
* In spades: in the extreme alludes to spades as being the highest ranking suit in various card games and transfers ‘highest’ to other extremes. A colloquial term from the 1920′s.
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Courtesy of artists