Benny and the FlyByNiters – Watch Yourself | Album Review

Benny and the FlyByNiters – Watch Yourself

Rhythm Bomb Records

CD: 11 Songs, 33:52 Minutes

Styles: Horn Blues, Ensemble Blues, Soul and Jazz-Influenced Blues  

A hotel commercial from the 1990’s advertised, “Some people don’t want turn-down service or a posh restaurant with arrogant waiters. They just want a good meal, and to get away from the job for a while.” This sentiment, if broadened, applies to many fans’ taste in music. They don’t want over-produced sound or vocalists who overreach their natural range. They just want some good blues – and to get away from the job (or life) for a while. That’s just what Melbourne, Australia’s Benny and the FlyByNiters have to offer. They have a lot of pep, but make sure not to fly too high when it comes to blowing people away with their instruments. Neither do they try any ostentatious tricks on vocals or lyrics. Their blues is like beef barley vegetable soup: warm and hearty. Add a few hot-saucy horns, and you’d better Watch Yourself.

According to their bio via Rhythm Bomb Records, “Benny and the FlyByNiters have been a stalwart of the Melbourne roots music scene since 1999. From humble beginnings playing local bars and pubs, to tours and festivals in the USA and Europe, the FlyByNiters have made their mark. Backing the likes of Lazy Lester, Big Jay McNeely, and Ska/Bluebeat great Owen Gray, to name a few, Benny & the FlyByNiters have always been the go-to band in Australia for your Rhythm & Blues fix.”

This swinging sextet has Benny Peters on vocals and guitar; Attilio Vecchio on double bass; Andrew Lindsay on drums; James Black on piano, and Alex Howroyd and Dean Hilson on sax. On eleven original tracks, they’ll bring a bounce to one’s step and a good mood to one’s ears.

The following three tracks are even catchier than seasonal allergy attacks, and that’s saying a lot.

Track 03: “Take Off Mama” – The first two words of the title are a descriptor and an order at the same time. Our narrator keeps wondering about his errant lover: “I followed you to a place I don’t know. I saw him standing there – another man. Oh, you’re a take-off mama. Now I know.” The best thing besides Benny’s gritty guitar is the half-blunt, half-blasé way he says, “I’m mad” toward the end of the song. Warning to cheaters: Take off, and “you’d better stay gone.”

Track 06: “The Blues is a Feeling” – Every blues album needs at least one smooth, medium-tempo ballad, and Benny and his band deliver. The blues “can break a big man, and make a small man lose his mind.” Can one fight them with reason and logic? Nope: “Doesn’t matter what your mind is saying. Your heart will always know.” Check out that dual horn refrain that will make you want to play “air sax” along with Alex Howroyd and Dean Hilson.

Track 10: “Drink it Up” – Bluesin’ and boozin’ go hand in hand, but don’t bring your adult beverages on the dance floor! This number is a surefire way to get a crowd off their collective duff and on their feet. Not only that, but they might clap their collective hands, too. Yow!

Benny and the FlyByNiters may not break new ground here, but that’s a flaw so minuscule it’s nearly invisible. You better Watch Yourself, horn blues fans, or you’ll wear this CD out.

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