If you aren’t familiar with the name Ricky Nye, it certainly isn’t due to a lack of effort on his part. His smooth vocals and splendid keyboard efforts have been featured on fourteen previous recordings under his name in addition to cuts on several piano compilations. His latest has him backed by his Paris Blues band for the fourth time. Based in the Cincinnati, OH area, Nye has received numerous local blues awards, including CEA award, Blues Artist Of The Year, for two consecutive years. The band is comprised of Anthony Stelmaszack on guitar, Simon “Shuffle” Boyer on drums, and Chris Douglas, Nye’s regular upright bass player.
The disc opens with a Furry Lewis tune, “I Will Turn Your Money Green”. The band cruises along at a sprightly pace with Nye laying down a litany of woes until Stelmaszack tries to reverse his fortunes with some striking guitar picking. Nye’s fingers give his piano a workout on Memphis Slim’s “Miss Ida Bea,” then he turns “San Antonio Rose” into a magnificent boogie-woogie romp. Dipping into the Nat King Cole songbook, the band sets a swinging pace on “For You My Love,” with Stelmaszack once again creating a strong impression. He follows that up with a blazing solo on an instrumental take of the Chuck Berry classic, ‘Memphis”.
Highlights from the second half of the disc include the good-time instrumental, “Shaggy Rag,” an original performed acoustically, and a showcase for Nye on the instrumental, “Shave ‘Em Dry,” composed by the legendary piano man, Jimmy Yancey. Nye’s fingers roll across the keyboard, spinning out three minutes of piano magic. On another original, “I Miss Your Love,” he switches over to the Hammond organ, giving the contemporary blues track a full, rich sound. Little Willie Littlefield’s classic, “K.C. Lovin’,” gets a rollicking treatment with plenty of piano and a fat guitar tone. “How Long Blues” from Leroy Carr is a standard that every blues pianist has to know how to play. Nye’s version focuses on his vocals with Stelmaszack on acoustic guitar. The title, “Radiate Them 88’s,” tells you all need to know about rousing finale.
This is one of those discs that sneaks up on you, impressing track after track with lively performances and solid musical interplay that makes every song a delight. The players are quite comfortable working together, and with Ricky Nye setting the pace, the disc never wavers from generating an enthusiastic affirmation of the blues that will have you pushing the Repeat button on your CD player. Well worth a listen!