Jim Allchin – Prime Blues
Sandy Key Music
Last year we saw the release of Jim Allchin’s Decisions album which garnered good critical review for it’s great songs and musicianship. Allchin returned to the studio this past Spring to once again collaborate with Tom Hambridge and his team. Hambridge has produced Grammy winners before and to make things even sweeter he and Allchin invited Mike Zito, Bobby Rush and The Memphis Horns to join them on this production.
The output of all that is 14 new songs, 3 penned by Allchin alone and the other 11 were collaborations between Allchin, Hambridge and a couple of other folks here and there. In addition to Allchin on vocals and guitar are Bob Britt, Kenny Greenberg and Rob McNelley on rhythm guitar, Hambridge on drums, Kevin McKendree on keys, Glenn Worf on bass, Mycle Wastman on backing vocals and the aforementioned guest musicians.
The album blasts off with “Give It up,” a strident blues rocker where Allchin urges us to discover our inner truth. Allchin’s guitar is big on lead and solos here, as it is throughout. The Memphis Horns make their presence felt early on this first cut. Kevin McKendree on keys answers Jim’s calls aptly and with great style on “The Devil Don’t Sleep,” a sweet and cool blues offering.
Allchin’s vocals move to the grittier side as he testifies that the devil remains ready to get us any time. “Voodoo Doll” is next, showing some Cajun influences on the blues where a bayou beauty draws attention and becomes Allchin’s “Voodoo Doll,” a nice play of words. Another big solo on the axe showcases Allchin’s prowess. The next offering, “Snuggle Up,” is pretty much a straight up guitar anthem sort of rocker, but the band spins a little blues into the sound as Allchin wails. A nice instrumental follows entitled “Jimmy’s Boogie.” It’s a swinging and hair raising cut with stratospheric guitar riffs and a driving beat.
Things then slow down for the softer and more sultry “Summer Sunrise.” The Horns are back in force and bring their style and coolness to the mix. It’s a pretty love song and Allchin and Company deliver a great performance. We get to the half way point with “Enough is Enough” with Mike Zito bringing his fantastic sound to the mix. A gritty guitar intro and Zito on vocals get things going. The piano then fills in and the groove continues at high speed as Zito sings and Allchin makes guitar sing. Solidly cool stuff!
“Found The Blues” gets us a little guitar and organ groove going as Allchin testifies to us about his finding the blues and setting him on his path to play them. Guitar and organ solos are well done on this well done traditional blues cut. Grease abounds on the guitar intro to “Two Bad Dreams” as the organ and Horns return the guitar calls to start this one off. And to make matters even better we get the ever sweet tones of Bobby Rush on vocals as the intro concludes. He breaks out his harp to back Jim’s guitar solo and adds a bit more to our enjoyment- a very cool cut!
Allchin goes acoustic on “Pawn Shop Man” and gives us some cleaned up and dressed up Delta blues delivered in his Northwest style. The acoustic guitar work is well done and McKendree’s piano also makes for a great song. “Lost My Mind” is a well done shuffle in the Chicago style and McKendree again plays some nice piano in support of Allchin’s vocals and guitar. Next we have “Up To Destiny,” a soulful piece where Allchin gives his love life efforts up to destiny. There is some pretty organ work and backing vocals here, too. A thoughtful and different kind of cut and Allchin pulls it off well. “Tech Blues” features some fancy double shuffling by Hambridge, some harp by Bobby Rush, and a little piano by McKendree as Jim and his acoustic guitar bemoan his smart phone trying to be smarter than him. It’s meant to be a commentary on our phone obsession and gives us a bit of humor mixed with social commentary.
The CD concludes with “Logoff,” a cut that both logs us off the CD as Allchin tells his woman he’s logging off from his relationship with her. He takes the blame for the relationship’s faults and brings things to a thoughtful and poignant close.
There is nothing to complain about here. Allchin delivers some great new songs and he and his band and guests are up to the task of making them all sound fresh, new and varied. He plays with an assortment of styles and is able to make each new cut sound as vibrant as the prior one. He’s a helluva guitar player, a very good singer and he really has another winner here. The ex-Microsoft engineer once again excels and delivers a super CD for us with Prime Blues. I think this one is even better than last year’s effort, so if you liked that one then don’t wait to run out and buy this one- you won’t regret it!