Cuban Blues Man
Funky-Ass Cuban Rhythm and Blues.
I’ve mentioned before that we receive albums from a variety of sources; and this one came after Ramon’s ‘team’ contacted a Radio DJ friend of mine; Jack Kidd who liked the album so much he suggested that they contact RMHQ as it might be something we too might like.
Jack and I have similar, if eclectic taste when it comes to ‘Blues Music’ and he wasn’t wrong.
If you were in a record shop and spotted this CD; you’d be right in thinking that the title ‘said it all’ ……. it does, and in quite a special fashion.
Cuban musician Ramon Taranco has lived in Canada for quite a few years now and has invented his own hybrid that combines Cuban Rhythms with Cool Canadian Blues and the world is a better place for it.
While the story within opening track Desperate Love is as sad as sad can be; Ramon and his band hit a groove right from the first few notes and even I found myself moving my shoulders in time to the music. Quite contemporary at first listening; but after a couple of plays the searing guitar licks; swashbuckling keyboards and Family Stone influenced bass n drums combine with Taranco’s wonderful voice to stop you in your tracks and demand that you listen.
The older I get the more I find myself actually listening to and deciphering the songs themselves; and not letting the tunes wash over me as I did in my youth ……and there are some crackers here.
As you’d expect with a Cuban-Blues hybrid; the melodies and actual tunes are always danceable …… that’s a given; but Taranco’s songs Love Survives and Devil Can Blues; although from opposite ends of the spectrum will both be just as effective if just accompanied by a single acoustic guitar; but in this format they are a bit fabulous.
As I checked out the album sleeve while listening the first night, I was instantly drawn to Suicide Hotel Boogie …… well; who wouldn’t? Thankfully it’s not the type of story I’d normally associate with the Grunge Bands; this is a lively tale and something of a leftfield love song; with one helluva stomping beat.
Another title I was drawn to was The New York Shuffle; which turns out not to be the Graham Parker song after all; but a song driven by a funky-ass bass that evokes memories of Blood Sweat and Tears, Bozz Scaggs and War at their finest.
Not for the first nor I’m sure the last time this year; I’m torn between two disparate tracks for the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song; the smoky shuffle that is Take Her Dancing is always going to be a contender; but Complicate Blues has really grown on me. Not a conventional melody, as it criss-crosses Jazz, Funk, Blues and I guess Cuban rhythms and the way Taranco sings it, he actually uses his voice as an instrument in its own rite; so after some internal debate ………… COMPLICATE BLUES is my favourite track here; probably.
Apparently this is Taranco’s third album; and that maturity comes across in the way each and every song is constructed; all individual but combining to create a wonderful package.
Released November 27th 2019