Bluesman Mike and the Blues Review Band – Knee Deep Into These Blues
CD: 13 Songs, 60 Minutes
Styles: Blues Covers, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues
Blues and country music share much in common. One of the hallmark features of both genres is that they tell stories. What would the blues (or country) be without tales of cheating partners, dire finances, the relief found in someone else’s bed or at the bottom of a bottle? Bluesman Mike and the Blues Review Band, longtime performers in the Phoenix area, find themselves in top form and Knee Deep Into These Blues. Their fourth self-produced album features thirteen tracks (four originals and nine covers) with robust instrumentation and storytelling power. Their music has a lot of soulful flavor, like a hearty fall stew or a good book. It’s comfort food that fills you up. Some of the tunes run to the jazzy side of blues, but that’s no flaw if you like Delbert McClinton and similar artists. This CD’s emotion and intensity are nicely mixed with classic style.
Over the years, bands morph into various incarnations. This one features Rob Thompson on keyboards, who also had performed with national act Bobby Womack, along with Bluesman Mike’s new lead guitar player Sugar Bear – another veteran from Philadelphia who had performed with Billy Paul. TJ Henry stars on rhythm and lead guitar, and Tim Robinson on drums, accompanying his son Daniel and the late, great Koko Taylor. Bobby Nealy, who performed with Archie Bell and the Drills, also plays keyboard. Bob Corritore takes the stage on harmonica, Doc. Donald Boles on even more keyboards, Shawn Behanna on horn arrangements, and Bryan Kuban on bass.
Bluesman Mike and company launch into Bobby Rush’s “I’m Good as Gone” to start things off with a bang. The title track is a sizzling blues shuffle with terrific sound all around and a slightly autobiographical vibe: “I’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly and more, trying to make things right. You’ve got me knee deep into these blues.” Special guest Bob Corritore heats things up on harp during “Pain,” another original composition. The keyboards are lovely as well, like falling rain on an autumn evening, and the bassline thumps ominously. “Back Door Man” is one of those uncanny original songs that you’ll swear you’ve heard before, but you probably haven’t. Its subject is familiar, its style funky, and its atmosphere fun. It features the most killer bassline since “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon in 1986. Several smooth covers follow, including “Evil” by Koko Taylor, “I’m a Good Man” by Quintus McCormick and “Born Under a Bad Sign” by William Bell. “My New Cadillac,” the final original, closes the CD in groovy fashion.
Knee Deep Into These Blues tells timeless tales, perfect for savoring on longer, darker nights!