Will Porter
Tick Tock Tick
Gramofono Sound

A Real Humdinger For the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti .

As is my won’t I’d played this through twice before I picked up the Press Release to ‘tick the boxes inside my head’ …… only to find that this is a far more important release than I’d anticipated!
TICK TOCK TICK is actually a re-release, something we normally avoid; but this 2015 LP was only a Limited Edition in the USA, and only barely distributed across Europe; but is now finally getting World Wide distribution; and rightly so as it’s a real humdinger.
The title track TICK TOCK TICK starts the party and verily oozes out of your speakers like a late night Everglades mist. WOAH, WOAH and thrice WOAH! Will Porter’s voice?
Man …. it’s right up there with Bobby Womack, Barry White and even Brook Benton and Gregory Porter (no relation btw) and the groove will have you inadvertently shuffling feet, shoulders and hips regardless of age, sex or creed.
I instantly recognised the *second voice on the track; but I’m not going to spoil the surprise this early.
This is followed by the beautiful ballad Why Do We Get Blue; full of swooshing and cinematic strings that will whisk you off to a whole new dimension …… and one that Porter will keep you in for the next half hour or so.
There’s a whole lot of everything good and Soulfully Righteous on this album; Porter will melt your heart one moment with the scintillating and heart-breaking duet Make You Feel My Love (this time the lady’s *voice will be instantly recognisable to the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti) then pick you up and fill the dancefloor with Treadin’ Water and the ubiquitous Tear it Up!
Why have I never heard of Will Porter before?
In many ways this is Classic R&B but with some really neat Jazz and Soul tinges in the shadows that mean this is aimed at Old School Clubbers rather than hipsters; but they too are going to instantly fall in love with I’m Blue and the swoonsome Don’t Go To Strangers; which is just begging for a monochrome video set in a Harlem night club to accompany the release.
Choosing a Favourite Song here has been both difficult and awkward; as there is so much to choose from; and all classy and cool in equal measures; but two songs sprang to mind earlier today …..
Everything’s Going to Be Alright closes the album in timeless fashion; and baring in mind what has been going on across the world in the last 18 months; actually sounds like a Soundtrack to the second Roaring Twenties.
The second and actual RMHQ Favourite Song, has been a case of ‘right place/right time’ for the mood I was in the first time I played this LP; I Can Do Bad By Myself ……. WOW! A big production somehow manages to still allow a razor sharp set of love lorn lyrics to breathe and flow like volcanic lava flow of S.O.U.L right into the dark crevices of your heart; and that guitar solo half way through; sounds like a metaphor for heartbreak, all by itself!
There’s nothing else left to say; this album and Will Porter are finally going to get their just rewards as the public at large are now going to be able to buy it and wallow in its beauty for years to come.

PS Don’t let the inclusion of *Guest Stars Dr. John and Bettye LaVette fool ya; they are only here as accompaniment for a bonafide STAR!

Released April 16th 2021



Lauren Housley
Girl From The North
Lovebird Recordings

A Dusty Springfield for the 21st Century?

A long time coming, but worth the wait.
2021 has seen Lauren Housley not only become a Mum, but she’s also managed to squeeze in recording her next album.
The field of Americana, with which Lauren has mostly been associated is a wide one, and on this release, she reaches out to the edges of that genre and many places beyond and in between too. This musical magpie-ery is far from fragmented though; as this album sees Lauren formulating a mature body of Country-Soul drenched Americana loveliness.
“Bless His Soul” starts things off with pedal steel and twangy reverb-drenched guitar in reflective mode – perhaps an unusual comparison to make, but it is reminiscent of Sheridan Smith’s extremely underrated “A Northern Soul” album of a couple of years back, in both tone and musical style.
The catchily and jangily “Guaranteed Sunshine,” accelerates the album and is everything its title suggests – it’s a West Coast top-down driving anthem that Stevie Nicks would be proud of.
“What’s Troubling You Child” – straight outta South Yorkshire – is deep South of the States Southern Soul; and not for the last time here, the Dusty Springfield influences can be heard here; muted brass and soulful rhythm guitar give it that “Dusty in Memphis” feel, set off by Lauren’s very own gloriously rich voice.
“Sing To Me” which follows, starts with delicate Spanish flavoured guitar and is a song which evokes warm nights and tender romanticism – with Lauren’s vocal delivery being beautifully pitched on this – other singers might have been tempted to a degree of emotional exaggeration, but this is firmly on the side of sincerity and S.O.U.L.
“Breakdown” is of a similar tempo and is a tender homage to coming through the other side of life’s difficulties.
“Two Lovers Lost In Space” takes a trippier approach musically; and fans of the spacy style of Erin Rae (i.e. me) will love it.
There’s a cornucopia of melody on this album, but for me, the one that screams “HIT!!” is “This Ain’t The Life” – a 60’s stop-start beat, layered vocals and a BIG chorus that will work equally well in a club, a large concert hall or just in front of the mirror with a hairbrush – mix them all up and it’s a sonic delight.
“Why Are We Making It So Hard” then takes a turn towards late night reflection , wrapped up in rhetoric and girl group melody. Things stay deep and soulful on “Stay Awake to Dream” – Memphis soaked guitar and keys with washes of pedal steel, provide terrific backing to yet another classy – and classic – vocal.
The album ends on a more up-tempo note with “We’re Not Backing Down” is a Fleetwood Mac/Tom Petty union, via the American Sound Studio.
It’s absolutely amazing that this album was largely recorded in a Rotherham basement studio – it has the genuine feel of the American South throughout; from the musicians who know this sound and Lauren – who puts a very considerable vocal cherry on top of it all.
There is absolutely no reason at all why this album shouldn’t sell millions, quite honestly – forget limiting labels – it’s a timeless, classic album that puts forward Lauren Housley as a Dusty Springfield for the 21st century.

Review by Nick Barber
Released 23rd April 2021



Steve Cropper FIRE IT UP

Fire it Up
Mascot Label/Provogue

Original Music from a Master Craftsman That Simply Oozes Class and Dignity

Steve Cropper moved, with his family, from Willow Springs, Missouri to Memphis when he was just 7 years old, acquiring his first guitar at 14, and with Charlie Freeman formed The Royal Spades who eventually became The Mar-Keys.
When Chips Moman left Stax Records in 1964, Cropper became the company’s A&R man; plus he was a founding member of the iconic Stax “house band” Booker T. & the M.G.’s.

Now, well into his seventh decade as a recording artist he will be 80 years old later this year.
Also famous for his role in both Blues Brothers movies he has led an incredibly eclectic musical career as a hugely admired guitarist, creative producer and a legendary song-writer too.
Whilst he has been featured on innumerable albums over those years, there are not many that just have his name as the sole artist.
In fact Cropper calls Fire It Up his first proper solo album since 1969 and has called upon long-term collaborator Jon Tiven to twiddle the knobs as his co-producer

Never known as a singer he has the benefit of bringing in Roger C. Reale to add his gruff and funky voice to the album; leaving Steve to apply the rhythms and subtle grooves, as he, the absolute epitome of a team player, has done for many others these years.
The album kicks off with “Bush Hog Part 1” a very upbeat, funk-groove instrumental that really sets the tone, quickly followed by the title track, “Fire It Up” a bluesy foot-tapper introducing the energetic vocals of Roger Reale to the fray. Trademark laid back guitar licks open up “One Good Turn” with the maestro delivering a couple of additional mid-song solos that are the polar opposite of declamatory.

I’m Not Having It” brings back that funky groove again, before “Out of Love” ups the tempo and has the catchy strap-line chorus of
when push comes to shove, I’d rather be out of love”.
A tight horn section are featured on most tracks, indeed very prominent on “Far Away” once again with peachy, under-stated guitar solos ensuring we all know whose name is on the album cover.

The “Say You Don’t Know Me” opening bars remind me of Judy in Disguise as it chugs along with the guitar fills coming straight from a Stax sounding Sam & Dave type memory, with Mr. Reale telling you
It’s a offer you can’t refuse, It’s a deal you can’t lose”.
Everyone should be up on the floor with “She’s So Fine”, with the full might of the brass section complimenting Steve’s recognisable repetitive six string under score.
Two Wrongs” is mostly about Rogers lyrics informing you of the obvious “don’t make a right” whilst “Heartbreak Street” cranks up the band with the familiar storyline chorus of
You’re leaving me on on Heartbreak Street, That’s where the lonely go to meet”.

Before the album ends with 2 more variations on the “Bush Hog” instrumental we have another brass laden soul number “The Go-Getter is Gone”, which follows the theme and tone of the album with Croppers’ clean and crisp picking refreshingly continuing in the middle of the mix.

Listening to the album 7 or 8 times now I’ve struggled to come up with an absolute favourite track, that is apart from the ear-worm groove of the 3 Bush Hog instrumentals. However, this is not a negative thing, far from it as what we have here is a really solid Rhythm & Blues / Soul album, which could easily come from the 1970’s but has a much more contemporary and 21st. Century vibe to it.

In a world full of gregarious show-offs and axe-wielding extroverts all trying to make your speakers explode, it’s just plain wonderful that there are still humble and respectful musicians plying their trade.
Steve Cropper is and always has been a real creative, genuine southern gentleman, but we should all marvel that he continues to produce original music that oozes so much simpatico and dignity.

Released on 23rd. April 2021

Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

cd https://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/steve-cropper/products/steve-cropper-fire-it-up-cd
LP https://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/steve-cropper/products/steve-cropper-fire-it-up-vinyl

The Rocking Magpie Radio Show Pt3 Top 10 North American Albums of 2020

The Rocking Magpie Radio Show Pt3
Top 10 North American Albums of 2020

Well; I’m getting there …… the new fangled faders, knobs and buttons are no longer scaring me in my shiny new Home Studio, so ……. cue drum roll ……… I now plan going ahead with a Weekly RMHQ Podcast, bringing you new tracks from albums we are reviewing and the occasional single that doesn’t get onto the site, alongside a few oldies from across the vast Americana Landscape that tickle my fancy.
The one thing that I plan doing every week, will be bringing you ‘Gateway’ tracks and albums that took me away from Pop Music and into a much more grown up and thoughtful world ……. it’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.

This Test episode is Part II of my own personal albums of 2020, this time it’s 11 (I know, I know) eclectic songs from ‘Game Changing’ albums that I can’t recommend highly enough .

10Terra SpencerPilot USA 10Chasing RabbitsCoyotes06/11/20
10Sam JoynerPilot USA 10When u need a friendNatural Born Luvah10/08/20
9Maceo ParkerPilot USA 10SOUL FOODHard Times26/06/20
8Grant Lee PhillipsPilot USA 10Lightning Show Us Your StuffLeave a light on04/09/20
7RookiePilot USA 10RookieMiss United States13/03/20
6Ben Adair MurphyPilot USA 10Lets make a kingSame kind of Fascist09/07/20
5Sarah Jane NelsonPilot USA 10I’m Not BrokenReap what you saw
4Drive By TruckersPilot USA 10UnravellingBabies in cages31/01/20
3American AquariumPilot USA 10LamentationsA Better South01/05/20
2LeRouxPilot USA 10One of these daysLucy Anna24/07/20
1Marshall ChapmanPilot USA 10Songs I cant live withoutWill you still love me tomorrow15/05/20


Living on Mercy
The Last Music Company

Laid Back, Smooth Grown-Up Music Full of Southern Soul.

After writing so many smash hits in the 1960/70’s you’d be excused for resting on your laurels, simply sitting back and living off the royalties.
But, if your name is Dan Penn and even when you’re 78 years old then that kinda thinking just still doesn’t enter your head.
Never did.
No sirree.
The man has kept pushing forward since Conway Twitty successfully recorded “Is a Bluebird Blue” some sixty years ago. Here is a person who once turned down $40 a week working in a factory with his Dad, in favour of taking a punt with song-writing.

Surprisingly, he has only ever recorded sporadically over the years, just a couple of studio albums since 1973 plus a compilation of unreleased songs from his time at FAME Studios. Then there is one of my favourite live recordings that Dan made with Spooner Oldham, “Moments from the Theatre” from 1999.
Throughout his writing career, he has mostly co-written with some heavy hitters and this is no exception. Not just the aforementioned Spooner Oldham, but Gary Nicholson, Carson Whitsett, Will McFarlane, Bucky Lindsey, Buzz Cason, and the Cate Brothers; all trusted collaborators ensuring no short cuts are taken.

Recording sessions for “Living on Mercy” occurred in both Nashville and Muscle Shoals with the likes of Milton Sledge (drums), Michael Rhodes (bass), Will McFarlane (guitar) and Clayton Ivey (keyboards), along with a full horn section, ensuring the necessary musicianship was also of the highest calibre.
The title track is first off with Penn’s distinctive, Southern Soulful voice delivering a luscious and laid back, mid tempo, love song.
On Spooner Oldham’s “I Do”, he has resurrected one from their back catalogue, originally a demo in the mid 1960’s, it proves well worth the effort to bring it up-to date.
Asking for a “Clean Slate” brings the tempo back to half-pace, imploring for;
Just give me a clean slate
let me wipe away all the mistakes,
all I need is a new start,
to find my way back into your heart”.

Those who know me will confirm that I like to have all the detail, not just of the musicians on each track, but who wrote or co-wrote the songs (OCD, Mmmm… well slightly).
Sadly, neither where available to me for this review.
However, if I had to guess then “I Didn’t Hear it Coming” has all the hall marks of top Texas song-writer Gary Nicholson.
Clayton Ivey brings the keys to the front of the mix on “Down on Music Row” with a typical Penn melody emphasising a hard luck story of his life-long, chosen career.
Edge of Love” tells it like it is and thankfully has a horn section adding some much needed funkiness.

Nevertheless, “Leave it Like You Found It” and a cover of the 1997 Cate Brothers’ “Blue Motel” (which Penn co-wrote) slow things back to what generally constitutes Dan’s distinctive and highly recognisable blue-eyed Soul ballads.
The penultimate track (of 13) explains that “Things Happen
things happen when you least expect it
smooth sailing turns fifty”,
some Deep South philosophy, if you ever needed it.
If pushed then my Favourite Number was “Soul Connection” with Will McFarlane’s sweet guitar fronting the superb up-tempo rhythm section of Sledge & Rhodes.

In summary, it’s smooth, laid back, Southern, grown-up music that exemplifies the simple, soulful approach that Dan Penn has always provided in his wonderful songs.

Released August 28th 2020

(Please Note: the limited edition Vinyl will be available October 23rd.)

Review courtesy:

Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” http://www.lionheartradio.com

John Fusco & The X-Road Riders JOHN THE REVELATOR

John Fusco & The X-Road Riders
Checkerboard Lounge Records

A Sad Case of The Blues With a Cinematic Americana Heart.

I’m not even sure where to start here.
John Fusco? Famed movie Director (Crossroads AND Highwaymen!), all round renaissance man and creator of one of our Favourite Albums of the last few years; and here he is again …….. back in the swamps, alongside his star-studded friends.
I’m not normally a lover of Double Albums, but here Fusco splits the two perfectly with the first being a looser vibe; with plenty of room to groove and sway; as well as listen to Fusco’s wise and often prescient words; whereas the second album takes a deeper and more contemplative direction.
In Bluesland John the Revelator is a classic tune; yet I only own one version and I can’t even remember who by, as it’s on a Various Artist CD …….. but I do love it; and it was a regular on my old radio programme ……. usually played when things were going to sweetly.
Which is a fair description of Fusco’s red raw version that opens the first side of this staggering Double Album of largely self-penned songs; that sound as if they were all unearthed in a cellar that hasn’t seen daylight since Katrina hit.
You can read elsewhere who plays what on these songs; but trust me ……. everyone involved is already in your record collection.
When I first heard Bone Deep I could have sworn I already knew it; but no …… it’s brand new; yet Fusco’s Hammond B3 playing and Ronnie Klinsberg’s ‘Blues Wailing’ harmonica are as timeless as you will hear this century.
It’s a similar feeling with the slow and ‘ornery Bad Dog and Snake Oil Man that sounds like Randy Newman after a night on the ‘shine!
Sometimes I listen to ‘hard’ to albums as I review them; and occasionally miss the bleeding obvious! The theme of ‘love’ is the golden thread that weaves throughout this album; sometimes happy sometimes sad and more often than not …….. love for love’s sake; which is where Applejack Brandy fits in perfectly well; and it’s lifted to amazing heights by the addition of Patrick Ross’s staggering fiddle playing too.
Ooh …….. choosing a Favourite on Album #1 isn’t easy at all; especially when the standard is so high; but I’ve now whittled it down to a choice between two ……… the racy duet with Sarah Morrow, Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing and Ophelia (I Feel Ya) which I guess is a homage to The Band or more especially Levon Helm; but I guess I’m going for the former tonight …… but that will change next time I play the album.
Album #2 was recorded ‘Up North’ in Burlington, Vermont as opposed to Memphis; and that sort of lends itself to the darker and possibly even deeper songs here.
Starting with Song For Peter, the mood is certainly a lot more intense, the electric guitar and Hammond B3 creating a ghostly atmosphere on a tragically beautiful story.
There’s even a hint of a claustrophobia on several tracks; starting with Jacqueline and continuing through The Sun Also Rises; you know …… the type that cloys the air and prefaces a storm; which is also the best way to describe Fools Fire, too.
As I’ve said many times before; The Blues comes in many hues and John Fusco has a musical pallet full of them all. On Language of Angels Patrick Ross’s fiddle playing adds a Celtic Green to a tearjerker of a melancholic ballad; and later on Motel Laws of Arizona the band tread a Country path that normally only eagles dare tread.
In between there are slightly lighter shades in the pictures Fusco paints with his majestic words on the beautiful Moonstone Lady and Good Money After Bad; which has all the hallmarks of Little Feat at the finest.
Here one song in particular stands out head and shoulders above all others; Hottest Part of the Flame conjures up all kinds of imagery in Fusco’s words; and the way the band come together in all their pomp and glory, while never even threatening to overshadow the singer has to be heard to be believed ……. trust me; I know these things. (#wink)
While I’d read a few snippets about this release on Social Media; genuinely nothing has prepared me for the quality in every single track; from Fusco’s words, the bands’ exemplary playing and his deep, dark and expressive voice.

PS All proceeds from CD Sales go to the Blues Foundation’s HART Fund!
You know what to do …… Buy Don’t Spotify https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0899K1KJS?linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1&tag=featurefmuk-21

Released 31st July 2020


Sam Joyner
When U Needs a Friend

Soulful Blues Around Loving, Losing and Cuckolding.

Where I wandering aimlessly around a record shop with money burning a hole in my pocket; I’d certainly pick this album up just because of the cover; and the music inside certainly lives up to the ‘cool and sexy’ vibe that Sam Joyner exudes in his picture; especially on the rather racy opening track Must Be Jelly……. ooh ooh ooh…….. it sets the mood quite perfectly.
This is followed by the stomper Goin’ To Chicago which showcases both Joyner’s extraordinarily good piano playing and his audacious vocals too; and a couple of tracks later Them Bluez follows a similar path, physically and metaphorically on songs about ‘going back to his musical roots;’ and ………. both reminding me of Brother Ray at not just his finest; but coolest too.
What follows slips and slides through a wonderful amalgam of Blues and Soul that will have you dancing one moment, singing along the next and wiping a tear away in between.
For the first time in a long time this album is a Blues album based around the piano; which adds a dimension I’ve not heard for a long ole time.
Joyner really ‘brings it on home’ on Them Blues and Nothin’ You Can Do About Love; but personally I love the deep down and sensual songs like Natural Born Lover and the title track itself; When U Need a Friend; which features some sizzling slide guitar too btw.
Speaking of guitars; two new names to me, Seizo and Dan Aguilar add both sugar and spice when it’s needed in an understated yet wondrous manner well worthy of the legendary Steve Cropper.
There’s a Special Guest guitarist too, Li’l Ray Neal who appears on the swoonsome Hard 4 Tha Money and the rinky dinky Breaking Up Our Happy Home; which is worth the entrance fee alone.
I hear a whole lot of music at RMHQ and obviously a whole lot revolves around L.O.V.E but I’ve never ever heard anyone use the vegetable onion, as a metaphor but Hell Sam Joyner does that with aplomb on the heartbreaker Onions (Ain’t The Only Thing That Will Make You Cry); and this song also features some delicious backing vocals and harmonies from Karin Danger and Spring for added pathos too.
For my Favourite Song I’m going for a song that stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I played it; and each subsequent time it’s been on a player I have to give it my full attention.
Breakin’ Up Our Happy Home is a left of centre rarity; as it’s an epic Blues song of the finest vintage about a man being cuckolded!
There’s so much going on here and it ends with a magnificent twist in the tail; that I promise I won’t spoil anything for new listeners …….. oohee baby, it’s a stone cold Classic in the making; and again Brother Ray springs to mind every time I play it.
Which leaves one other song; Sam Joyner in Da House; which is my only criticism about this album. It’s a raffish self-appreciating toe tapper that should either be Track #1 or maybe even the closer and not just tucked away in the middle; but if that’s my only complaint the album can’t be too shabby; can it? #wink

Released August 9th 2020

Jeff Fetterman Band SOUTHERN SON

Jeff Fetterman Band
Southern Son

Sizzling, Soulful and Southern Blues Straight Outta Pennsylvania.

As regular readers know we desperately try to be as up to date as possible with our reviews at RMHQ; but a new supplier of amazing Blues Music in America keeps sending us albums from his 2020 back pages; and some are just too hot to ignore ……. so let’s welcome Jeff Fetterman into our crazy little world.
The accompanying bio is limited; so apart from this probably being the Bands 4th album and they hail from the Rock and Roll capital of Pennsylvania ….. Bradford!
It’s all about the music.
The opening drums/keyboard intro to I Don’t Want To was already more than enough to capture my attention; but when a tight and funky horn section kicked in to introduce Fetterman’s husky and ‘lived in’ voice; my SPIDEY-SENSES already deduced that this was going to be a rather special song ……. and it is.
A crippling story of heartbreak after capturing his lover in another man’s bed ……… but the the cruel twist in the tail is that he still loves her; all told over a red hot rocking Blues melody full of Fetterman’s signature liquid guitar playing.
What’s not to like kids?
Who said start with an explosion and then build the tension? Well; that’s what we get here.
There’s a whole lotta Soul in Fetterman’s songs but the band and he are Rhythm and Blues Rock personified on Ain’t Got You and extra spicy 49/61 which has a sting in the tail that has to be heard to be believed.
The horn section sit out a few songs; and bizarrely aren’t even missed on Tell Me Baby and the sublime and sultry Living With the Blues which are exemplary examples of why The Blues can be as sad can be, yet still sound truly beautiful too.
Blues instrumentals can often be a bit ‘light’ but here; Blues For Charlie comes over like a velvety mix of Booker T with Buddy Guy or Robert Cray on soul affirming geetar.
There’s a cover version here that took me three plays to recognise; as I thought it was some kind of nod to Curtis Mayfield; but who would ever have expected a Funk rendition of All Along The Watchtower to be this damn good? Not me, that’s for sure; but it is.
On my copy there are two bonus tracks; Voodoo Funk, which is exactly what it says on the tin and will be a floor-filler at the Hoockie Coochie Club in Newcastle if Warren ever hears it and the other couldn’t be more apposite – Southside Blues, which features some phenomenal electric keyboard playing.
Which brings me back to choosing a Favourite Song; which is sort of easy; but also highlights the incredible diversity that Jeff Fetterman shows in not just his playing but the way he chooses his songs to suit the music.
Going Down to Nashville just stands out from the crop; full stop. Twang guitar that’s worthy of Chet Atkins but a melody and a dynamic taken straight from the Chuck Berry play-book makes this sizzle, shake and shimmy like the girl Fetterman is singing about and it works for me.
Jeff Fetterman has been around a long time; playing every club withing a 300 mile radius of his home town and sharing stages with just about every household name Rock or Blues guitarist to venture into that part of America; but this album is far too good to stay in Pennsylvania …… it deserves a much wider audience; and Europe is gonna love it!

Released May 2020


Cary Morin
Dockside Saints

Southern Fried Funky Soul and Blues With a Smattering of Sizzling Zydeco

Opening New Orleans bluesy-zydeco shuffle “Nobody Gotta Know” sets the tone immediately for this album of Louisiana flavoured roots – the lyrics don’t extend much beyond the title, but as it’s all about the groove, that’s hardly an issue!
Following track “Exception to the Rule” is a slower, soulful ballad that evokes Wayne Toups in vocal style and late-night feel as does “Because He Told Me So”, another prime cut of Gulf coast soul.
“Prisoner” moves into acoustic blues picking territory with a Suzie-Q-ish riff punctuated by low frequency kick drum and jazzy organ flourishes – music for warm sultry evenings.
“Tonight”, complete with its percussive rallies and shuffles, mixes up NOLA rhythms and almost psychedelic picking in a trippy nocturnal journey. “Jamie Rae” picks things up a few notches with a rhythm that sits between zydeco double-clutching and second line syncopation – tempo and instrumental shifts give the song dynamics and impetus too – and a Cajun triangle sneaks in too – what’s not to like?
“Bare Trees” keeps the piano accordion, but drops down into a Celtic tinged mellow instrumental, with soaring violin.
No time to rest though, as the train-beat of “Valley of the Chiefs” raises the tempo again, with a tale presumably inspired from Cary’s Crow tribe roots. ”Chosen Road” returns to the early-hours soul to state an acceptance of a late night lifestyle – perfect for warm evenings and a cold beer.
“Cary’s Groove” is a bass driven, accordion and barrel-house piano laced jam straight from Frenchmen Street that hits eleven on the funkometer. “Blue Delta Home” is more Gulf Coast soul with the minor key shifts that pull the emotional strings – in juxtaposition to the likes of the aforementioned Mr Toups, it’s the fiddle and not the accordion that mainly riffs against the vocal and again gives it a Celtic flavour.
The album closes with a more traditional Sonny Landreth type blues “Come the Rain” which slides things to a comfortable conclusion – if you need a soundtrack to your warm evening backyard social bubble lockdown party, and want to test the dynamics of your hi-fi, then you could do worse than having a listen to the rhythms and grooves of “Dockside Saints”.

Released August 7th 2020
Review by Nick Barber


Maceo Parker
Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo
Funk Garage/Mascot Label

Smouldering Soul and Fiery Funk From a Master-Craftsman.

I’ve always had eclectic musical tastes, but Funk and Jazz-Funk have mostly passed me by; probably because I associate both with Nightclubs, and being the boring old sod I was as a young man, hardly ever visited such establishments.
Oddly enough; the older I got the more intrigued I became; but apart from a couple of George Benson, Commodores, Jeffrey Osborne (and Various Artist) albums, the RMHQ cupboard is bare.
So, I grabbed the opportunity to review this with both hands!
I presume most people reading this already know Maceo Parker’s backstory; and if you don’t there’s more than enough on the internet to fill a Tuesday evening in; so I will get straight into the music!
The ‘groove’ starts with more relish than a NY Hot Dog on opening track Cross The Track; a slinky dance floor filler that’s just as listenable in the comfort of your own home; but be prepared to find yourself dancing when you least expect it.
I don’t even know if Nightclubs still exist; but if they do just like that first song; most every cut here is destined to make you want to cut a rug; with or without the love of your life opposite you.
For the unaccustomed like myself there’s a glorious mix of old and new songs here; all sprinkled with Parker’s saxophonic diamond dust and superbly soulful singing voice.
Of the songs I recognised the Good Doctor’s Right Place/Wrong Time gets a 21st Century makeover, with the Voodoo slightly diluted but the Funk turned up to the MAX! Then there’s The Meters’s, Just Kissed My Baby which I actually have on a VA album; but hardly recognised in this format which sounds like something Allen Toussaint may have recorded; which isn’t as odd as you’d think; because Maceo follows it with a reworking of Toussaint’s own Yes We Can, Can ……… which sounds as cool as it’s apt in the current Geo-Political climate!
I’ve never really been a Prince fan; but Parker’s slow and soulful rendering of the Purple One’s Other Side of The Pillow sounds as if Parker had been listening to Brook Benton and Nat King Cole on the ride to the studio; and that’s meant as a huge compliment.
While not my favourite Aretha song; Maceo and friends really do add extra edge and Funk (of course) to Rock Steady and bring it right up to date.
Of the new tracks; Hard Times evokes more memories of the Blue Note Club than it will Studio 54; and it adds a really cool vibe to an otherwise uptempo album.
I’m not sure when Compared To What was first written; but it’s got a real hard edge to the Maceo’s message in the lyrics; and without being outright angry; it could easily be the Sound of Summer 2020 across America, in the way that Curtis and Marvin managed many moons ago.
Which brings me to my Official Favourite Song here; it was very, very nearly the finale Grazing in The Grass with Parker’s saxophone sounding almost Angelic; but man you have to have big cajones to include a song MACEO; (instrumental actually) named after yourself; but Maceo Parker does it with poise, self-assurance and Class with a capital C.
This is Maceo Parker’s 16th full length album; but the first in 8 years and …… yes indeed; it’s been well worth the wait.

Released June 26th 2020
BUY HERE: https://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/maceo-parker