Strongman Blues Remedy VOLUME 1

Strongman Blues Remedy
Volume: I
Stony Plain Records

Damn Fine Swampy Soul Laced R&B Straight Outta Canada.

Just as I always looked forward to releases from the late lamented Bloodshot Records label; Canada’s Stony Plain has gleefully picked up the mantle, with everything I’ve received from them in the last couple of years being at the very least ‘interesting’ but regularly fascinating and Tip Top from start to finish.
Just when I think that I must have reviewed something or other from absolutely every Canadian Roots musician/band; Stony Plain keep turning up new acts for me to salivate over – such is the case with the quaintly monikered Strongman Blues Band; which is actually the name of founder and frontman, Steve Strongman!
With 7 previous albums under his own name; Strongman decided a slight change of direction was merited, so gathered a bunch of his (Award winning) friends together to record this steamy mix of Rhythm & Blues with a hard lump of solid gold Soul at its heart.
If you didn’t know better, you’d presume the opening track, Hard Luck was recorded in Memphis on a hot July night; as the sweat literally drips out of your speakers as Strongman takes an age old Blues adage; and puts a contemporary 21st Century spin on it ….. with some Jimmie Vaughan style guitar and rinky dinky piano accompanying a crystal clear vocal performance.
That opening track sets the seal on what is to follow; with some sultry and swinging slower numbers like Swansong (featuring vocals from Steve Marriner), the heartbreaker I Don’t Miss (Harrison Kennedy vocals) and; of course the stinging album closer, Love Coming Down, featuring Mr Strongman himself knocking the listener sideways.
As you see so far; the band features a variety of singers; and for once that makes for some fascinating changes in tone and mood; especially Dawn Tyler Watsons’ raspy and full of longing Fine Young Man, which takes us into Sheba Potts Wright territory; and Harrison Kennedys’ second song the bodacious I Like to Ride; which sashays around the room like a nightclub charmer stalking his prey …… if you get my meaning 😉
There’s a golden thread weaving through every track here; even though each and every one is as different as chalk and cheese; and that’s Steve Strongman’s guitar playing and his deeply thoughtful and personal songwriting.
For my Favourite Track it’s come down to a toss of a coin between the heartbreaker White Lightnin’; which is as far removed from the George Jones song of the same name as you can get; with this one reminding me of Roy Buchanan; it’s The Blues of course; but with S.O.U.L at its core and very essence; and the other is the old school Texas Saturday night slow and seedy True To Me; which sizzles and shimmy’s in a way I’ve not heard since Johnny Winter died.
I was going to ignore it; but there’s also a song here that I genuinely don’t like …. and in my defence the happy-go-lucky Jug Band/Honky Tonky rhythm sticks out like a sore thumb anyways; but as a vehemently anti-drugs advocate all my life; Gettin’ Stoned sounds like the sort of throwaway song you’d find on a Lovin Spoonful or Arlo Guthrie album 50 years ago …. and it wouldn’t have aged well either.
Apart from that; I’ll tell you how good this album is; it’s been in my car’s CD Player for well over a week now; much to the detriment of several albums that need listening to prior to their reviews; but HELL! This album and band are so damn good I can’t bring myself to take it out and give them a try!

Released June 17th 2022
https://stonyplainrecords.com/strongmanbluesremedy/

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https://stonyplainrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-strongman-blues-remedy-vol-1

https://my.labelstore.ca/releases/772532146227-the-strongman-blues-remedy-vol-1-digital-mp3.html



Sass Jordan BITCHES BLUES

Sass Jordan
Bitches Blues
Stony Plain Records

An Outstanding Album That Blends Several Shades of Blues Music

YIKES! I wasn’t expecting this when I pressed ‘play’ on the office Hi-Fi.
While I already knew Sass Jordan was a Blues Rocker after reviewing her REBEL MOON BLUES album a couple of years ago; but WOWZA ….. the powerful way she handles Rick Derringer’s Still Alive and Well as an opening track sure made me sit up and listen!
I know the track via Johnny Winter’s version; which to some degree became his signature tune …. so for Sass to take it on was a brave decision … and do you know what? She twists and turns the words and melody until you forget that anyone else may ever have recorded it.
Thankfully the pace drops a couple of notches for her heartfelt take on Taj Mahal’s Chevrolet ….. which I hadn’t heard in years and now don’t need to; as again Sass Jordan (and whoever is playing guitar) very much makes it her own.
This is an album of mostly covers; old and new but Sass includes three fascinating co-writes of her own; starting with the slow and New Orleansy flop house, piano led Even which comes across as a heady mix of Dr. John, Professor Longhair and Levon Helm; and will stay with you long after the album ends.
But, it’s the spectacular mix of cover songs that will draw you to this album; Little Feet’s Sailin’ Shoes sounds like it was recorded in that Flop House one rowdy Wednesday night and suits her raspy vocals just perfectly.
Preceding that, it’s another brave move; as You Gotta Move has been a staple of many Blues encrusted pub singers sets for years; or that may be just the ones I’ve encountered ….. and Sass Jordan certainly does justice to this hoary old classic from The Reverend Gary Davis & Fred McDowell  with pure Class as a side order.
Serendipity turns a corner here too, by the way as out of nowhere I decided to play a Freddie King track on this week’s radio show and I had already selected Ain’t No Big Deal On You; and here it is with a razor sharp makeover; that not just features Sass at her coolest; and the guitar duel between guitarists Chris Caddell and Jimmy Reid has to be heard; to be believed!
With only eight songs to choose from selecting a Favourite so early in the album’s life is a challenge; but both of Sass Jordan’s remaining co-written songs are exemplary; even sitting alongside those staples of my record collection.
Still The World Goes Round, has a Gospel meets Chicago feel to it and the message therein alongside a cracking melody; based around some intense drumming from Cass Pereira, makes it a contender on any level; but the album’s finale Change Is Coming, with its psychedelic guitar intro and Sass’s tragically beautiful deadpan delivery on her song of infinite hope in a world that’s going to Hell in a Handcart; is worthy of someone like Sam Cooke or; of course Miss Aretha Franklin …. making this my actual Favourite Song on a fabulous album.
Sass Jordan (and band) have created an outstanding album here; combining several types of Blues Music to create light and shade not just in the temperment of the songs but the way they are musically delivered.

PS …. I get the joke in the title; and can see the thread that would link this to Miles Davis’ BITCHES BREW album.

https://sassjordan.com/
Released June 3rd 2022

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Foreday Riders DURN TOOTIN’

Foreday Riders
Durn Tootin
Interface Blue

Bluesy Floor Filler’s that Sound Like They are From the Early 60’s But Still Contemporary Enough for Somewhere Dark and Sweaty For Next Saturday Too.

While we receive most of our new music from North America and the UK of course;’ but over the years we’ve also built up some interesting and innovative contacts around the world especially in Australia; where this album originated.
Because DURN TOOTIN’ comes from Australia I’d never have heard of RAY BEADLE & THE FOREDAY RIDERS were it not for their Press Guy, Stuart reminding me several times ‘how much he thought I’d like these tracks‘ …. and how right he was/is, even though they have been ‘going’ in one form or another for 55 years!

This particular album was recorded ‘as live’ in front of a small audience in 2020 and has had very little added or taken away in the control room and the result is as sparkling as it is raw.
With no intros, the band just stroll into our lives with the sweet sound of Chicago via a slinky nightspot in Sydney ….. Close to You, which ticks all of my boxes for Blues music like this …. be that a pub band or an Arena filler.
The band then fire on all cylinders with the feisty instrumental, Cookin’ at The Continental which features Ron King on harmonica; and boy can he make it wail and cry; clearly overshadowing Jeff King’s awesome guitar playing.
Even the first night I played this I knew I was in for the long haul this early ….. and it all gets even better and better as the songs come and go like a Southern Breeze.
This is the type of music I cut teeth on in the mid 70’s when the Blues Boom was at its peak in the pubs and clubs of NE England; but no matter what my memory tells me about The Blues Burglars and/or The Young Bucks etc. they weren’t a patch on these sounds.
The songwriting too is quite exceptional; with the slinky No More Doggin’ sounding quite timeless; but the story is as contemporary as anything Ed Sheeran has ever recorded; and it’s a similar story with Evalina and I’ll Never Let You Go too; Classic Chicago Blues with a 21st Century twist in the tale.
Surprisingly; but not totally unexpected there are a lot of instrumentals included here; and the guys’ exceptional musicianship shines on each and everyone which are all totally worthy of your time; as if they were Jazz pieces …… especially the title track Darn Tootin’ and the slow and sleazy The Peeper which closes proceeding …. leaving the listener wanting MORE!
For my Favourite Track I have my usual dilemma …..initially it was going to be the quaintly monickered L+N, which comes at you like the actual train they romantically sing about right out of the tunnel; and it’s full of rinky-dink piano ala Professor Longhair, drumming that Charlie Watts would be proud of; some fiery guitars that remind me of both Kenny Burrell AND Duane Eddy …. all held together by Stan ‘Sleepy’ Mobbs’ humongous bass lines but I keep getting drawn back time and time again to the soft shoe shuffle of For Mods Only; which would surely have been a floor filler back in the clubs of the early 60’s as well as my time in the 70’s and no doubt somewhere dark and sweaty last Friday night and next Saturday too, so probably for the first time ever, on an album with songs on, I’m choosing an instrumental as my Favourite track.
There’s absolutely no reason that there wouldn’t be a vibrant Blues scene in Australia; just that I wasn’t aware of it ….. and if there’s more out there of this quality ….. you know where I am!

Ray Beadle  – Guitar & Vocals
Ron King – Harmonica & Vocals
Jeff King – Guitar & Dobro
Stan ‘Sleepy’ Mobbs – Bass
Rosscoe ‘Stinger’ Clark – Drums

Released May 6th 2022
https://www.foredayriders.com/index.html

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Robert Cray Band at O2 NEWCASTLE CITY HALL

Robert Cray Band
O2 City Hall
Newcastle
Friday 6th May 2022

Unlike many of my peers; I’m not as enthralled with ‘live music’ these days as I should be … and that’s not just a Post-Covid ‘thing;’ as I felt the same way three or more years ago.
To some degrees it’s a health ‘thing’ as I’m no longer able to stand for three or more hours; so the opportunity to not just see Robert Cray and visit the newly revamped City Hall; which was my ‘go to’ venue as a young man was a night that couldn’t be missed.
We were still looking for our seats when the support act appeared on stage and if my eyes didn’t deceive me; it was Welsh duo …. Zervas & Pepper!
Last seen at the SummerTyne Festival 4 or 5 years ago; they immediately seemed a strange choice as support; but the knowledgeable audience instantly fell in love with their style of Laurel Canyon drenched Americana.
Opening with Living In a Small Town that led into the really rather good Silver To Chrome; which had a punchy Folk Rock edge to it.
Without pointing fingers; I think it’s fair to say that the ‘soundman’ didn’t do them any favours tonight; with Paul Zervas rich voice regularly being pushed down in the mix and Kathryn Pepper’s sounding too ‘toppy’ at times ….. thankfully I could see through this and know what great voices they both have …. and when they harmonise; as they do on Look Out Mountain and The Gift; I defy anyone to not be cast their memories back to the halcyon days of Laurel Canyon in all its pomp.
While I recognised a few songs from their Abstract Heart album; they slid in a new song from an imminent album; and the intense White Flag; with its power chords certainly piqued my attention for its release.
As is our won’t we went to the bar at the intermission; and my Brother decided that it must be his ’round’ and ordered two pints of very average and too cold beer in plastic glasses; and nearly had to take an extra tablet when told they would cost £6.75 each!!!!!
Back in the main hall and standing at the front ready to take photos; the band wandered onto the stage in pitch darkness; then on the drummer’s count slid seamlessly into Nothin’ But Love and the scene was set for a fabulous evening of super smooth Soul infused Blues of the highest order.
The first of several surprises was hearing Phone Booth so early in the set; and my notes say ‘full of horny bass lines’ and ‘CooooLLL’ which I still standby those words today.
I can’t list all 20 songs from the set, obviously but we had a delirious mix of Soul Shuffles, majestically moody Blues Ballads and more than enough searing Bluesy Soft Rockers to satisfy even the tardiest of music fans.
After all these years I’d forgot what a great singing voice Robert Cray has; sliding through a range that belies his age on the heartbreakingly sleazy The Things You Do To Me and You Move Me Baby too.
I think of Robert, first and foremost as a guitarist; yet my brother had never heard of him …. strange you might think; but Robert Cray has always flown under the radar …. and suffice to say, Brother Brian was a convert after only three songs.
Speaking of which; in the grand pantheon of Great Blues Guitarists Cray rarely, if ever gets a mention; yet tonight (and not for the first time either) he made his assortment of Fender Stratocasters’, not just weep and cry but scream at times tonight ….. and as for ‘innovative’ …. man; this guy knows no boundaries.
Again; as Brian pointed out afterwards…. this wasn’t just a showcase for the Star; it actually felt like a total band effort; with Les Falconer on drums and Richard Cousins’ ‘less is more’ style of bass playing certainly held everything together like a copper weld; but the legendary (in my head!) Dover Weinberg on Hammond very nearly ‘stole the show’ such was his fabulous playing and ever present smile.
Highlights?
Just so many ….. but a couple of new songs to me really caught my attention; The Shiver was haunting and really showed what an amazing guitar player Cray is; and the playful Roadhouse Blues of Hot featured some extraordinary guitar playing; yet Cray himself is the opposite of flash!
Oh yes!
Right in the middle of the show You Had My Heart; a great song in itself featured some serious tub-thumping from Les Falconer as well as Cray sounding like he was stabbing at the guitar strings while his voice dropped an octave or two …. you had to be there.
With so much to choose from his own back catalogue Robert even gave us an amazing cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s slow and intensely sensitive The Soul of a Man in which every single second was filled to the max.
The set was bookended with Cray’s other ‘hit’ …. Right Next Door, which was a bit ‘heavier’ than I’ve heard before, and somehow ….. all the better for that; then they ‘closed the show’ with a no holds barred You Must Believe In Yourself.
Cray and band mates then thanked the crowd and left the stage ……. Bizarrely; after all these years adults around us were wondering out loud whether they would come back for an encore.
REALLY???
Sure enough, after the obligatory minute in the wings … back they came for two stunning songs ; the darkly smoky Forecast Calls (for Pain) and the sultry Time Makes Two with another playful false ending; then to a deserved standing ovation they were gone into the Spring night.

https://robertcray.com/
https://zervasandpepper.com/


Ann Peebles LIVE IN MEMPHIS

Ann Peebles & The Hi-Rhythm Section
Live in Memphis
Memphis International Records

A Little Ray of Sad and Soulful Sunshine Just For Your Very Own Pleasure.

I was so excited when I received this album; as I was a Soul Boy in my teens/early 20’s and Ann Peebles was a regular on my record player; mostly singles but her I Can’t Stand the Rain LP.
For once I actually read the Press Release before listening to the music; and that only served to whet my appetite even more as this is ‘only known live recording with the Hi Rhythm Section, being recorded at a show in February 1992‘ ….. YOWZA, YOWZA …. YOWZA!
The show starts with a super-smooth ballad If I Can’t See You that sent a tingle down my spine; especially as it was being played quite loud in the living room where I have my best speakers. As is the case in shows like this would have been; Ann slows things down mid-song to introduce herself and try to ‘whup up’ some extra excitement among the audience.
This track (and a couple of others) is only spoilt by the vicious editing at the end ….. no sleek fade …. just a STOP….. then Ann introducing Part Time Love which is even smokier and sultrier than my 7 inch single all those years ago.
There are a couple of songs included that I either can’t remember or just don’t know; but I’m thrilled to be acquainted all these years later with I Didn’t Take Your Man, which is one of those sassy tales of an extra-marital affair; via a one sided ‘telephone call’ that crops up occasionally in Soul Music and sets the pulse racing as you wait for the punchline at the end …. if it ever comes.
Another is the slow and slinky Didn’t We Do It, which borders on Gospel as Ann and the Hi-Lights show why they were and still are Stars of the Soul World.
Without any surprises at all the show includes with her three most famous songs; and each is rearranged enough to give them extra sparkle but not enough for any one to be even a smidgen disappointed; with the torrid tale of the unrequited love of a married man; I Feel Like Breaking Up Someone’s Home and I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse down slowed down to a sweltering and even voluptuous level, leaving you panting for breath hoping for a happy ending …. which never comes.
For a Favourite Track I pretty much should by all reasoning choose I Can’t Stand The Rain; which is as good as ever; and that intro is just ‘so iconic’; but I’m going for a song I hardly know in this format; You Keep Me (Hanging On) …. a minor hit in 1974; and somehow gives Ms Peebles the opportunity to show off her amazing vocal range without ever going too high or too low; and as for the Hi-Rhythm Section; they bring their studio perfection to the concert stage with effortless grace.

It’s been an absolute pleasure (really) listening to Ann Peebles again after all these years; and this album has been a little ray of sunshine when there’s so much doom and gloom surrounding us these days.

Released 29th April 2022
https://memphisinternational.com/

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UK and Europe https://www.propermusic.com/mir2038-live-in-memphis.html



Angelique Francis LONG RIVER

Angelique Francis
Long River
Angelique/Kiran Francis

A Stunningly Individual Voice That Brings Out The Soul In A Majestic Take on The Blues.

Here’s another album that’s already on the shelves; but because our site was recommended to her PR by another Canadian act; and #SPOILER it’s bloody brilliant; I’ve been unable to stop myself putting pen to paper to let the world know about Ottawan singer Angelique Francis’s undoubted talent on this her most recent album.
As always when I receive new music I listen to Track #1 to get a feel, as I update the spreadsheet with the release details …… and when I did; I had to press ‘start’ again after about a minute; so I could ‘really, really listen’ to the current single; Storms From My Eyes.
Man oh man!
What a stunning voice Ms. Francis has …… somewhere between Sade and Heather Small as she brings a whole lotta S.O.U.L to what is a Blues Ballad Deluxe set of songs.
The first twice that I played this album; I just had to sit back and immerse myself in the magic that’s on offer …… each arrangement is intricately different from each other; but gel together like the smoothest and tastiest bourbon to ever pass your lips.
Eventually you will get past ‘that’ and actually listen to the songs and what they contain lyric wise; and I can’t recommend the ballsy Ashamed and Out Your Mind highly enough for when you do; you’re not just listening to a great singer, but a great songwriter too.
After all these years as a music fan; I’m still staggered how a songwriter can still find new and interesting ways to describe the feeling of ‘love’ ….. yet Angelique and writing partner Kiran Francis do exactly that on I’ve Never and the intimate My Love too, as well as others in one form or another.
While the individual songs are all worth your time; but the actual sequencing will stop you wanting to jump around the tracks; as they all interlink while toying with your emotions at the same time.
While Soul Sister Angelique flits between genres here; at heart the album would best be found in the Blues section of your local record store; with the pot boiler, Right as Rain preceding (Interlude) You Must Be Crazy which is followed by the ‘song of our time’ Out Your Mind being a perfect coupling; that also shows what an amazing vocal range Ms Francis possesses too.
Speaking of ‘range’ that also applies to the genres that Angelique covers here; and brings me to my selection of Favourite Song; which is a coin toss between the glorious Gospel Revivalist, Soul Train Line which closes the album and Who Is Caroline? Quirkily starting with a telephone ringing ….. Angelique goes on to question ‘Russell’ about who is the woman ringing his Cell Phone at 3.am!
The arrangement therein; is the type of thing you’d normally associate with Big Mama Thornton and/or Etta James; but the story and detail therein is very much 21st Century; and I can easily imagine the likes of Barbara Carr or Sheba Potts-Wright including it in their set; and because of that it tips the balance in favour of it becoming my Favourite Song on a rather splendid album.
In the accompanying Press Release Angelique alludes to the instruments here being ‘recorded live’ and it certainly feels that way with the excitement that only live music can produce; coming over in every song …. which is quite some feet for Producer Kiran Francis.
Something else you should know about Angelique is that she is a genuine Multi-Instrumentalist’ playing upright bass, electric bass, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitar, organ, and keyboards on the album; plus four of her family members: co-songwriter, producer, drummer and vocalist Kiran Francis, saxophonist and vocalist Kharincia Francis, trombonist and vocalist Kira Francis as well as vocalist Kayla Francis are all here too; making this a truly great family album.
Rounding out the band are Dave Williamson on lead electric guitar and Ed Lister on trumpet.
This is another of those albums that I’m really proud to bring to you and yours.

Released 8th March 2022
https://angeliquefrancis.net/home

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Tim Gartland TRUTH

Tim Gartland
Truth
Taste Good Music

A Keeper Of The Blues Flame, Par Excellence

With March 2022 being such a busy month for new releases I very nearly missed this out ….. and would have regretted it for years to come.
On the day I received it I gave the accompanying Press Release a cursory glance and saw Tim had once published an instructional book for the harmonica entitled “The Talking Harmonica ;”.  which made me think immediately that I was going to like whatever the Hell was on offer on the silver CD.
My ‘spidey-sense’ was spot on!
Gartland hit my sweet spot straight from the opening stanza of Don’t You Mess With My Heart; which starts with a piano/harmonica duet before his grizzled and world weary vocals, accompanied by some gorgeous female harmonies glide in like a warm breeze on an Autumn morning.
Man …. oh man, can he play that harp! But there’s so much more to this act than just a single instrument ….. like most everything that follows; this song is Chicago street Blues at its finest; with thoughtful lyrics and an arrangement worthy of a Superstar Act.
As a bonafide harmonica lover; I adore Gartland’s unique style; or should that be styles? As he can make this tiny instrument sound soulful and sleazy at times (The Thing About The Truth? Outta Sight, Outta Mind?); and also a rocktastic lead instrument too (Mind Your Own Business? Save Sammy Some?) ….. which very few apart from Charlie Musselwhite can do these days (unless you know different.)
What will actually keep this album to the forefront of collections though; is the combination of Gartland’s vocals and his razor sharp lyrics ……. the Honky and Tonky, Cloudy With a Chance of Blues, sounds like a Dr John/Howlin Wolf/Hound Dog Taylor mash-up will get even a wooden leg dancing; and the sultry Love Knocks Once will make you want to grab your partner and slow dance around the kitchen, with the lights turned down low!
Choosing a Favourite Song is not the same as saying something is ‘the best in show’ ….. a Favourite is a song that touches you in some weird and mysterious way; which is exactly what the heartbreaker Wish I Could Go Back made me feel the first time I played it; and again this evening …… it’s a sad song (of course) but that piano, guitar, shuffling drum beat and of course Gartland’s trademark harmonica playing all combine to send a shiver down the back and a lightning bolt to the heart!
One other thing to mention is that Gartland hails from Nashville; and while we instantly think of Stetson attired Country musicians inhabiting that great city; but there’s an exciting Blues scene there too …. and Tim Gartland must surely be at the fore front.
I’m not sure if this is Tim Gartland’s fourth or fifth release; but that matters not a jot because it’s a keeper par excellence and a gateway back into his back pages, if I’m not mistaken. (I’m not!)

Released March 18th 2022
https://www.timgartland.com/

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Back Catalogue https://www.timgartland.com/my-songs
TRUTH https://www.amazon.com/music/player/artists/B0057ZVR0A/tim-gartland




Horojo Trio SET THE RECORD

Horojo Trio
Set The Record
Stony Plain Records

Rocktastic, Funkalicious Blues and Soul Hybrid Straight Outta Ottawa.

HOROJO Trio (pronunciation: HO-RO-JO, as in HO – Think Santa Claus; RO – “Row Your Boat”; and JO – “Joe”) …… are drummer Jamie Holmes, singer/keyboardist Jeff Rogers, and guitarist JW Jones who has as a solo artist reached Top 10 on the Billboard Blues Charts and has received multiple JUNO and Maple Blues Award nominations.
That’s the hard facts; but it’s the music that will make you part with your pocket money!
Even before Jamie Holmes enters the fray on opening track Man of Steel; I was already won over by the opening salvo from the trio …… for a Soul/Blues/Rock hybrid these cats can not only play their instruments with aplomb; but they sure ain’t afraid of a melody too.
The song itself is a bonafide stomper which will make your brain work just as hard as your feet ….. what a dazzling way to introduce themselves.
The second song; the slow burning A Little Goes a Long Way, opens with the bewitching lines;
Well I feel so good
I gotta sing about it
Find the highest place
So I can shout about it
.”
not just a great set of lyrics follows; but the trio don’t just provide harmonies that would make the House of Stax proud of; but their playing is worthy of Blue Note at its height.
Two fabulous songs in and you’d presume that the band must surely have already peaked ….. nay, nay and thrice nay!
The album gets better and better in every conceivable musical manner …… (while probably not Top 20) but the Hits just keep on coming!
There are 11 songs here and not a single one could conceivably be deemed ‘filler;’ obviously some are catchier than others …… the slow and sultry Give and Take, The Night and the funkalicious Running are all perfect for radio play as well as for wallowing in in the comfort of your own home.
I’ve always had eclectic taste in music; and somehow The Horojo Trio tick all of the boxes I require from Soul, Blues, Rhythm AND Blues and the occasional addition of JW Jones’ sublime guitar playing adds enough rock to balance everything just perfectly.
Selecting a single Favourite Song has been almost impossible; mostly because each individual song is a winner in its own rite; but using my very own Super Power of turning the music off, making a cup of coffee and then thinking back to the songs and titles; I was actually drawn to four (yes FOUR!) instead of the usual one or two …….
If Smokey Robinson ever covers Hard As I Can it’s going to be a shoe-in for a Grammy ……. seriously; it sounds as smooth as latter day Smokey; but with the bounce and danceability of his earlier hits with the Miracles!
Who thought I’d ever get to write a sentence like that?
Give and Take is a bit of a monster; and while Jeff Rogers husky and distinctive vocals sounds nothing like them; this song reminds me of the type of songs Frankie Beverly and/or Teddy Pendergrass released ‘back in the day’ ….. which is a helluva compliment.
Prior to that on the album is Ragman’s Blues; which I’d guessed with a title like that was a cover of an old song; but no siree Bob ….. this is 2022 at it’s sauciest and indeed sexiest!
Then there is the slow and sensual Stay Crazy; which again has some really really, memorable lines, describing the type of life Rogers wants and wants from the woman in that life …… none more so than the ear catching opening verse:
“Too many people
Colour inside the lines
Always do as they’re told
Never put up a fight
They’re old when they’re young
Wish away their lives
They do what’s expected
They … wither on the vine
… stay crazy.”

The actual punchline is “Stay crazy ….. stay crazy in love.” And that’s a sentiment we could all live by!
Personally I’d have entitled the album after the raucous closing track; Real Deal, which is another trip to Funky Town, which perfectly sums up how I feel about The Horojo Trio …… they most certainly are The Real Deal.

Released April 1st 2022
https://horojotrio.com/

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https://stonyplainrecords.com/horojotrio/

The Sully Band LET’S STRAIGHTEN IT OUT!

The Sully Band Let’s Straighten It Out!
Belly Up Records/Blue Élan Records

60’s & 70’s American Blues & Soul Gems Get a Spit ‘n’ Polish For a Sparkly…

A debut album surely unleashes a tornedo of excitement for any musician. For the listener too: a thrilling reward when the initial spin propels us to an unexpected place. Much rarer when the “new music” happens to be vintage covers of Motown and R&B grooves, in my case evoking an ancient memory of a much younger me frequenting Sunday Sessions with Aussie mates at a packed pub: the house band belting out a similar vibe, no chair or table in sight without a dancer on it.

No surprise then, glancing at the press blurb, that San Diego’s Bluesy 10-piece strong Sully Band have already made a gigantic impact treading the live circuit. Yet to embark on a recording, brushing shoulders with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jackie Wilson, The Temptations and Billy Preston, you absolutely need a singer with enough heart tugging soulful force that you could honestly bet your last dollar that had they been around in the ‘60’s, they would’ve been right up there with the best: backed up with the tightest talented musical Wall of Sound for maximum effect. This band firmly ticks both boxes for me, the added bonus being a skilfully selected track list including some lesser-known treasures that will feel brand new to many, especially with their funked up 2022 perspective.

When The Battle Is Over, a massive Aretha showcase opener, boldly launches the Frontman Bob “Sully” Sullivan who picks up the soulful reins and seizes control by speaking the lyrics directly at us, emotionally bonding before we get any other ideas. The funkiest bass riff and the “I said a Who Who” hook ensures my feet are tapping right from the start line. By the time drums kick in to a Sly & The Family Stone worthy stomp, the powerfully tight brass section belts the beat straight back and we can only gasp for breath before the introduction of sassy soul diva Rebecca Jade (Sheila E/Elton John) who joins in to trade vocals and battles it out for the crown.

Cooling right down next with the Ray Charles jazz swing track Hallelujah, I love Her So, showcases Sully’s deeply irresistible gravel layered vocals but such is the pace of this album, a mere 2:43mins later we are propelled into Ice Cold Daydream (Shuggie Otis): an enlightened decision to cover this track from his Freedom Flight 1971 album, rebooted with a striking driving bass and percussion intro, laced with ‘70’s Cop Show theme tune funk and taking us to new heights with a vigorously stirring Sax solo.

Very narrowly missing out on the no 1 spot is the heart tugging I wish It Would Rain originally recorded by The Temptations. This is where for me The Sully Band really defend their corner amongst the greats, the powerful production coupled with the most emotionally charged vocals, echoing perfectly the trauma of a completely broken heart, pointing this song up to the Heavens where it deserves to be. Surrounded by deep poignancy, as it is known to many that the Motown lyricist Rodger Penzabene who penned these heartfelt words, inspired by his own relationship blues, tragically took his own life soon after the song was released in 1967.

By now I have completely bought into the band’s new custody and treatment of these classics (yet somehow the whole album was recorded in a mere 5 days!). In essence it’s an album paying homage but also firmly rooted in the here and now, and the no 1 spot is shared by two tracks which demonstrate this just perfectly.

The original, classy Nolan Porter’s If I Could Only be Sure has always been a personal favourite but this makeover is off the scale with the hypnotic indie fuelled guitar opening riff, Sully’s smouldering vocals, laid back cool and pausing for maximum effect just at the right moments. The spellbindingly moody trance of the Hammond organ leads to a temperature raising rocky guitar solo before we get to rest easy again.

Sharing the trophy is Gimmie Little Sign (Brenton Wood). This all new beefed-up ‘70’s smooth soul version, complete with the sweetest of B/V’s from Ms Jade and delectably melodic trumpet solo, speaks directly to the “Guardians Of The Galaxy” generation as it would sit perfectly on their next Soundtrack Mixtape.

Bob “Sully” Sullivan has embraced his musical calling once more after a long time out earning his crust in sales, business and as an American TV talk show host, enabling him to sing these songs with a voice matured by a bucketload of life’s rich experiences and finally earning his rightful place at the table. His debut album is the perfect introduction for a whole new audience to join him and in turn discover these lesser- known bygone Artists, cutting a large slice of Soul for themselves.

Review by Anita Joyce
Released March 11th 2022
https://sullyband.com/

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://blueelan.com/collections/shop?pf_t_artists=The%20Sully%20Band


The Sully Band LET’S STRAIGHTEN IT OUT!

The Sully Band
Let’s Straighten It Out!
Belly Up Records/Blue Élan Records

60’s & 70’s American Blues & Soul Gems Get a Spit ‘n’ Polish For a Sparkly Reincarnation.

A debut album surely unleashes a tornado of excitement for any musician; but for the listener too; giving: a thrilling reward when the initial spin propels us to an unexpected place.
Much rarer when the “new music” happens to be a set of vintage covers of Motown and R&B grooves, in my case evoking an ancient memory of a much younger me frequenting Sunday Sessions with Aussie mates at a packed pub: and the house band belting out a similar vibe, no chair or table in sight without a dancer on it.

No surprise then, glancing at the press blurb, that San Diego’s Bluesy 10-piece strong Sully Band have already made a gigantic impact treading the live circuit.
Yet to embark on a recording, brushing shoulders with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jackie Wilson, The Temptations and Billy Preston too, you absolutely need a singer with enough heart tugging soulful force that you could honestly bet your last dollar that had they been around in the ‘60’s, they would’ve been right up there with the best.
Backed up with the tightest talented musical Wall of Sound for maximum effect.
This band firmly ticks both boxes for me, the added bonus being a skilfully selected track list including some lesser-known treasures that will feel brand new to many, especially with their funked up 2022 perspective.

When The Battle Is Over, a massive Aretha showcase opener, boldly launches the Frontman Bob “Sully” Sullivan who picks up the soulful reins and seizes control by speaking the lyrics directly at us, emotionally bonding before we get any other ideas.
The funkiest bass riff and the “I Said a Who Who” hook ensures my feet are tapping right from the start line.
By the time drums kick in to a Sly & The Family Stone worthy stomp, the powerfully tight brass section belts the beat straight back and we can only gasp for breath before the introduction of sassy soul diva Rebecca Jade (Sheila E/Elton John) who joins in to trade vocals and battles it out for the crown.

Cooling right down next with the Ray Charles jazz swing track Hallelujah, I love Her So, showcases Sully’s deeply irresistible gravel layered vocals but such is the pace of this album, a mere 2:43mins later we are propelled into Ice Cold Daydream (Shuggie Otis): an enlightened decision to cover this track from his Freedom Flight 1971 album, rebooted with a striking driving bass and percussion intro, laced with 70’s Cop Show theme tune funk and taking us to new heights with a vigorously stirring Sax solo.

Very narrowly missing out on the #1 spot is the heart tugging I Wish It Would Rain originally recorded by The Temptations.
This is where for me The Sully Band really defend their corner amongst the greats, the powerful production coupled with the most emotionally charged vocals, echoing perfectly the trauma of a completely broken heart, pointing this song up to the Heavens where it deserves to be.
Surrounded by deep poignancy, as it is known to many that the Motown lyricist Rodger Penzabene who penned these heartfelt words, inspired by his own relationship blues, tragically took his own life soon after the song was released in 1967.

By now I have completely bought into the band’s new custody and treatment of these classics (yet somehow the whole album was recorded in a mere 5 days!).
In essence it’s an album paying homage but also firmly rooted in the here and now, and the no 1 spot is shared by two tracks which demonstrate this just perfectly.

The original, classy Nolan Porter’s If I Could Only be Sure has always been a personal favourite but this makeover is off the scale with the hypnotic indie fuelled guitar opening riff, Sully’s smouldering vocals, laid back cool and pausing for maximum effect just at the right moments.
The spellbindingly moody trance of the Hammond organ leads to a temperature raising rocky guitar solo before we get to rest easy again.

Sharing the trophy is Gimmie a Little Sign (Brenton Wood).
This all new beefed-up ‘70’s smooth soul version, complete with the sweetest of Backing Vocals from Ms Jade and delectably melodic trumpet solo, speaks directly to the “Guardians Of The Galaxy” generation as it would sit perfectly on their next Soundtrack Mixtape.
Bob “Sully” Sullivan has embraced his musical calling once more after a long time out earning his crust in sales, business and as an American TV talk show host, enabling him to sing these songs with a voice matured by a bucketload of life’s rich experiences and finally earning his rightful place at the table. His debut album is the perfect introduction for a whole new audience to join him and in turn discover these lesser- known bygone Artists, cutting a large slice of Soul for themselves.

Review courtesy Anita Joyce
Released 11th March 2022

https://sullyband.com/

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://blueelan.com/collections/shop?pf_t_artists=The%20Sully%20Band