Big B and the Actual Proof -The Noir Album
Film noir was a staple of Hollywood in the 1940’s and 1950’s. It was low key, melodramatic, subdued lighting and dark in theme and look. Brian “Big B” Burlson has spent thirty years as a singer, songwriter and guitar player and an even longer time as a movie fan. A film lover since his childhood, he became obsessed with film noir in college and adapts that film style into his blues and rock sounds. It’s an interesting, dark ride through ten tracks.
The band were semifinalists in the 2022 International Blues Challenge. Big B and the band offer the listener some cool tunes to enjoy. This is his second album; the first features him with the Magic Bullets on 11 Shots. It, too, features dark themed topics, but theNoir album certainly takes the cake.
Burlson handles the lead vocals and the guitars and keyed instruments. Erin Pitman on drums and Mitch Sharpe on bass flesh out the rest of the trio. These Detroit artists have a lot of talent they bring a half dozen guests in to be featured on some cuts.
The album begins with some eerie, pensive sounds and then bursts into a brazen , driving piece entitled “Wooden Kimono,” a dark refence to a casket. Dark and violent, it’s a cool cut. Zen Zadraven adds his piano here and Johnny evans is on sax. Things slow down for “Sitting On The Devil’s Lap,” a rocking blues with big guitar work and a somber feeling. The songs builds and builds to a heavy, guitar –laden frenzy. “Red Carpet” is a bouncy cut of the story of a girl who goes to Hollywood to make her mark. When she couldn’t get her way she blackmails those who don’t take to being toyed with, and the only red carpet she’s ever on is the one covered in her blood. Typical noir plot, a driving bass line and more stinging guitar make this one shine. Horseshows and Hand Grenades” follows, with some more cool sax by Evans with lyrics about a washed up fighter . More good noir stuff in a slow and hard hitting cut.
“Five Hundred Large” is a story of a bank built over an abandoned NYC subway. The perps dig down and make out until they are, of course, caught. It’s a slick, driving number featuring the Theater Bizarre Orchestra horn section. “All Bad” is a slow and thoughtful blues about an evil women who has no social redeeming value. Poignant guitar work and pensive vocals help make this nice. “God’s Lonely Man” is up next, a throbbing number about a bored taxi driver who turns into a hitman. Big guitar and a deep groove make this cut interesting.
“Ben Franklin and the Number Five Combo” adds Koji Cassetta on upright bass. This story is about a trio who rob a Brinks truck. They stop for Chinese and the fortune cookie gets one of the robbers thinking if he knocks the other two off he’s got a better chance getting away with it. Unfortunately witnesses abound, including the restaurant’s waiter and then a year later three men were dead. It’s a fun, dark story and cut. Jim McCarty adds the middle guitar solo in “I’m About To Get Evil.” Here we’ve got a guy who’s good all his life as his buddies get all the women and have all the fun, so in his old age the guy plans of getting evil. Slow blues and wickedly cool stuff. :just Another Harlem Sunset“ concludes the album. Zadarec and Evans make another appearance and James Simonson adds upright bass in this tight and cool instrumental that would easily set the mood for any dark, noir picture. Guitar, bass and accompaniment are all top notch.
It’s a little odd but it’s very cool to listen to this film noir themed album of blues and rock. If old, black and white period films are your love and you like the blues, this album will certainly intrigue you. If all this is new to you, it’s an interesting intro to the world of noir and may move you to watch. I enjoyed the set of tunes. They are not faint hearted topics, but they are a cool. dark set of songs with some solid musicianship delivering the goods!