Mr. Keith Little – Plum Crazy
11 tracks / 53:03
Mr. Keith Little calls himself “The Cincinnati Blues Man,” which is a hard title to dispute since he works the blues scene in the Queen City, and he has been performing for over five decades. During that time, he has recorded a handful of soulful blues albums, including his recent Soul Santa, which is a real hoot. Keith has also ingrained himself into the local blues community, with heavy involvement in the Cincy Blues Society (former president) and the Performers’ Alliance for Charity (former chief coordinator). Little also had ventured into the video world, as writer and producer of a Cincinnati blues and jazz video documentary, Thanks for My Flowers, and as host and producer of his own TV show, “Mr. Little’s Hangout” WBQC, which used to air on a local tv station.
Keith’s latest release, Plum Crazy, is a cool set of ten original tunes and one cover that was recorded at Slaughter House Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. Keith used a full band for this project, including a tight horn section, but there are no details of the musicians who participated, and Mr. Little was not able to be reached to get these details. This is a shame, as these folks definitely deserve a shout-out for the fine work they did. One guest artist did get props for her participation, and that would be Chicago’s Nellie “Tiger” Travis who posted some awesome vocals on the title track courtesy of Joy Ride Studio in the Windy City.
Little is a singer and songwriter, and Plum Crazy gives the listener a good idea of what he is capable of. His baritone vocals are pleasingly soulful, and at times he lapses into a spoken word mode, which is eerily reminiscent of Barry White. This is exactly what the opener “I Can Deal with It,” delivers, and on this upbeat funky blues tune his vocals are accompanied by tight horns and brief guitar and keyboard solos. His style does well with the message of the lyrics, which explain that he can help out his lady with whatever “problems” she has.
Up next, the listener gets a real treat with the title track, “Plum Crazy,” which is a bawdy blues revue with oodles of innuendo. This uptempo track has a popping bassline and tight horns, and the sultry vocals of Nellie Travis which work so well with Little’s voice. Nellie is a true treasure of the Chicago blues scene: a protégé to the late Koko Taylor who has made her own place in the blues as a worldwide blues phenomenon and festival headliner.
From there, the album uses blues, R&B and jazz to explore all the problems that can happen with relationships, and it seems like in Little’s opinion the things that go wrong are always the woman’s fault. In “The Tables Have Turned,” he is saddled with a woman who does not love him anymore. “Letter to My Wife” is a laundry list of things that he does not like about her and her friends. And “Strange Feelings” describes the feeling of a man who thinks that his girl is steeping out on him. You probably get the picture.
By the way, there is one cover tune on this album, Johnny Taylor’s “Just Because,” from 1976. This R&B song has softer edges than the rest of the playlist, and this provides a cool break in the middle of the album. That being said, Mr. Keith Little’s version is still a little edgier than the original but leaving out the synthesizers for this re-do was a definitely a wise choice.
Plum Crazy is a fun piece of local blues from Mr. Keith Little, and he has some samples of it on his website if you want to hear his music for yourself. He does not have any upcoming shows listed, but judging from the disc, his live show would probably be a good time too!