Bobby Kyle – It’s My Life | Album Review

Bobby Kyle – It’s My Life

Juicy Baby Records

12 songs – 45 minutes

Bobby Kyle has led a long and storied life in the blues, learning from Lonnie Mack in the 1970s, being part of Bill Dicey’s band from 1979 to 1981, touring with Eddie Kirkland in the early 1980s and being a key part of Johnny “Clyde” Copeland’s band both on record and on the road from 1989 to 1997.  For the last 20 years, he has led his own band as a singer, guitarist and songwriter.

It’s My Life is Kyle’s first release since 2004’s Last Call For The Blues and it is immediately obvious that he is still firing on all cylinders. Roaring out of the blocks with Copeland’s own “Daily Bread”, Kyle and his top class band, The Administrators, display a muscular authority and confidence. The Administrators comprise Joel Perry on acoustic and electric guitars, Everett Boyd on electric and upright bass and Marc Copell on drums and percussion. Sadly, Perry passed away in September 2017 and It’s My Life is dedicated to his memory. Guest musicians on the album include Dave Keyes on piano, organ, wurlitzer and accordion, Joey Simon on harmonica, Fred Scribner on nylon string guitar on “Tomorrow Night”, Laron Land and Alex Harding on tenor and soprano saxophone and baritone saxophone respectively, and James Smith on trumpet. Little Sammy Davis adds harmonica to “Tomorrow Night”.

Kyle has a warm, weathered voice that has echoes of Delbert McClinton, especially on the pop-blues-rock of the title track. He is also a fine guitarist, with a powerful, melodic style that reflects the influence of the likes of Mack and Copeland. His solo on “Highway Man” is particularly memorable in its less-is-more approach. Kyle’s songs touch on rock, soul, jazz-rock and even country, all underscored by the blues. He contributed six of his own songs to the album. The six covers are all well-chosen and well-executed. The most well-known is probably Robert Lockwood Jr’s “Little Boy Blue”, which closes the album and which on which Kyle backs himself with just a resonator guitar and a bottleneck.

Having acknowledged his debt to Copeland in “Daily Bread” (originally recorded by the Texas legend on his Boom Boom album), Kyle tips his hat to another former employer on “I’ve Got My Bloodshot Eyes On You” which keeps the acoustic guitars of Kirkland’s original but adds Simon’s harmonica to the front of the mix. Denise La Salle’s “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In” is played closer to the blues-rock cover by Buddy Guy on 1994’s Slippin’ In, rather than LaSalle’s funky original. “Tripping Out”, by Philly soul legend, Bunny Sigler (who also sadly passed in late 2017), features some fine piano from Keyes. “Tomorrow Night”, originally written in 1939 by Sam Coslow and Will Grosz and since covered by everyone from Lonnie Johnson and Lavern Baker to Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan, harks back to the earlier versions with the acoustic instrumentation and even features some static at the start and end of the song, reminiscent of a needle being placed on an old record.

It’s My Life is a fine release of modern blues and blues-rock from Kyle.  Let’s hope it won’t be 14 years until the next one.

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