Seven Freedoms Music – 2015
10 tracks; 46 minutes
Little Elliott Lloyd was a harmonica player and singer who was active in the Hudson Valley area of New York state from the late sixties until his death in 1993. Despite being a local attraction and leading several bands he was never recorded, but that omission has been rectified with this release. This live performance at a club in Poughkeepsie, NY, on 17 June 1979 was recorded on reel-to-reel tape and then transferred to a digital format by Marc Giammarco, CEO of Seven Freedoms Records, and was clearly a labor of love, not only because of Marc’s desire to see his late friend on record but also because Marc was the drummer at the gig! The other members of the band were Dave Gibson and Merwin DeGroodt on guitars, Bruce Nikola on bass and Elliott on harp and vocals.
The ten tracks are all covers and undoubtedly offer a fair representation of what the band had to offer on stage. There are a couple of soul songs but mostly a good selection of the classic blues masters’ material, including two selections each from the repertoires of BB King and Sonny Boy Williamson. This disc is inevitably relatively ‘lo-fi’ compared with much of what is available these days and does not contain any original material.
Elliott sings in a deep and nasal voice that works well on the extended version of BB King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” on which both guitarists play well in suitably relaxed style. One imagines that Marc had some issues with the original recording as evidenced by the very abrupt shift from “Thrill” to the harp intro to Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me To Talkin’” and the opening track, “You Left The Water Running” which starts well into the song. Elliott’s harp work on Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With The Kid” is solid but sounds ragged on the second BB song “Sweet Sixteen”.
“I Don’t Know” works well with strong harp and a good vocal from Elliott and the band takes a laid-back approach to Kansas City which provides the guitarists an opportunity to play some relaxed and jazzy chords before they take Don Covay’s “Chain Of Fools” (once a hit for Aretha Franklin) which is challenging for Elliott’s voice and does not really take off. A short riff-based piece entitled “Red Hot Chicken” allows Elliott to introduce the band members before they sign off with an encore of Jimmy Rogers’ “Walkin’ By Myself”.
It is good that there is now a record available of the work of someone who spent many years entertaining audiences and producer Marc clearly worked hard to get a viable set of songs from the original tapes. This disc will clearly interest anyone who remembers seeing Little Elliott Lloyd live back in the day.