Ron Spencer Band – Into The Blue
Real Gone Records – 2018
10 tracks; 42 minutes
The Ron Spencer Band is from NY state and their PR claims that they have “over 180 years of experience” – a veteran band indeed! They formed in 2007 and this is their third album together. Ron is on guitar and vocals, Mark Gibson on vocals, Bob Purdy on bass and vocals and Ross Moe on drums; Dan ‘Cato’ Eaton guests on keys, sax and B/Vs, Jeff Moleski, Sharon Allen and Donna Colton also add B/Vs and Mike Davis plays Hammond organ on one cut. The album was recorded in Syracuse, NY and produced by Ron. Writing credits are shared out with Mark the main writer with four solo compositions, three with Ron and one with Bob, and there are two covers.
“Closer To The Bone” is a rocking opener, Mark singing of the pace of modern life as Dan plays some fine piano and Ron pulls out a Chuck Berry style solo. The strange looking title “(I’m Doin’) Ah-ight” makes sense when you hear the song, a rousing shuffle with more piano and sax on the outro from Dan. Mark’s vocals here are excellent as he expresses a degree of contentment with his lot. Ron’s echoed guitar introduces the swampy “Addicted To You”, Mark declaring that he needs to “work on my addictions, I know that it’s true, number one on my list, baby you guessed, honey it’s you”. The two covers are placed side by side at tracks 4 and 5: Moon Martin’s “Cadillac Walk” rocks along with Ron on slide and more pumping piano; “Blind, Crippled & Crazy” (Hodges, Carter, Robey) is a more frequently covered song and the band do a solid version with Ron playing soulful guitar alongside warm organ washes from Dan, Mark demonstrating that he is equally at home on a soul song as on blues.
The band plays a rhumba rhythm to the amusing tale of opposites attract in “So Wrong For Each Other” before the jazzy shuffle “It’s Time” gives Ron the chance to show us his T-Bone style guitar set against swinging Hammond work. “Callin’ To Me” has a Memphis soul feel with sax adding to the rhythm work, Ron picking out some appropriately Steve Cropper-style licks in his solo. “Fine, Fine Woman” is a frantic rocking boogie, great piano and Ron playing a fast-paced rockabilly style on this one. The album concludes with “Cold Outside” with a New Orleans rhythm (particularly in the piano work) combined with some BB King stylings from Ron.
Overall a very pleasant album to listen to. Ron demonstrates a sure touch in several styles and plays economically throughout – no shredding or grandstanding here! Mark proves himself an equally flexible vocalist, Dan’s piano is a distinct asset and the rhythm section plays its part throughout. Good stuff!