Arthur Adams – Here To Make You Feel Good | Album Review

Arthur Adams – Here To Make You Feel Good

Cleopatra Records

10 songs – 39 minutes

Arthur Adams has been something of a local legend in and around Los Angeles since the 1960s, collaborating with the likes of BB King, Nina Simone, Dr John and Bonnie Raitt as well as releasing a series of solo albums. His latest CD, Here To Make You Feel Good, his first in ten years, is a timeless collection of feel-good soul blues, released to coincide with the 75 year-old’s farewell run of shows. If this album is any indication of his current abilities, live music will be significantly poorer for his retirement.

The cover photo of the album depicts a beaming Adams, nattily dressed in a sharp shirt, mustard blazer and dark fedora, playing a vintage Gibson 335 outside a white shack. It’s a great image that perfectly captures the uplifting, inspiriting music within.

Adams sings with a clean, light, slightly nasally voice that suits the music well. He is a also a superb guitar player, turning in a series of short, punchy solos (particularly on “Tear The House Down” and the closing instrumental, “A Little Dab Will Do Ya”) as well as laying down some fine rhythm guitar – the introduction to “Enjoy Each Moment” is an instant classic. He is backed by an impressively high-powered band, including the legendary James Gadson on drums, Reggie McBride, Lou Castro and Freddie Washington on bass and Hense Powell on keys. A number of songs also benefit from horns, whether Ronnie Laws’ solo saxophone on “Tear The House Down”, or the full bore sound of Lee Thornberg and Lester Lovett on trumpets, Bruce Fowler on trombone and Bill Bergman on saxophone on “Gonna Make Some Money”, which also features the backing vocals of Kym Foley, Jessica Taylor and Ava DuPree on backing vocals.

Adams wrote or co-wrote all 10 songs on the album, which kicks off with the funky, disco-lite “Tear The House Down” on which Adams and Laws take turns laying down some lovely blues licks between Adams’ vocal lines, while Gadson, McBride and Powell provide an irresistible underpinning. The upbeat “Full Of Fire”, which follows, has an ear-worm of a chorus, an almost 1980s dance beat, and more sharp guitar playing. The lyrically upbeat “Sweet Spot” also has an 80s feel with its heavily chorused guitar and key change for the solo (think Clapton’s Journeyman-era), while Powell’s descending piano introduction to “Pretty Lady” is immediately memorable. The slow blues of “By Myself” emphasizes Adams’ debt to BB King, both vocally and in the melodic phrasing of his guitar playing.

Here To Make You Feel Good was produced by Adams and Powell at Pacifica Studios and they captured a very crisp, warm sound. With great songs, great playing, and a thoroughly contemporary sound that is  also classic and enduring, Here To Make You Feel Good is a soul-blues delight from start to finish. Hats off, Mr Adams.

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