Self-Release – 2013
11 tracks; 55 minutes
Born in Japan to a military family, Bobby Murray started out playing in the North West, befriending a young Robert Cray. The entertainment at his and Cray’s high school graduation was Albert Collins with whom Bobby played off and on for many years. Later recruited by Etta James, Bobby stayed with her for twenty years until her death in 2012. Bobby moved to Detroit in the 90’s and this new CD gives us a good idea of his talents on guitar and as a songsmith. Working with Etta for so long, Bobby must know a good singer when he hears one and a variety of Detroit singers do the honours here. Bobby wrote all the songs, one with Frankie Lee Jones and another with Linnea Murray. The style is mainly soul-blues with some tasty guitar playing from Bobby.
The album was recorded in Detroit and produced by Bobby and engineer Brian “Roscoe” White. Bobby’s regular band of Dave Uricek (bass and vocals), Mark Thibodeau (keys and vocals) and Renell Gonsalves (drums) play on all tracks except “Comin’ Atcha” on which Bobby and Mark are joined by engineer Brian on guitar, Ron Pangborn on drums and Nolan Mendenhall on bass. Vocals come from Wiley “Red” Redding, Tom Hogarth, Barbara Payton and Paul Randolph, with backing vocals from most of the band, along with Anamaria Ylizaliturri.
Opener “Finders Keepers” was co-written by Bobby and Frankie Lee Jones, another person Bobby has played with over the years. It’s a fine slab of urban soul with superb vocals from Wiley Redding and Bobby’s rhythm and lead work is spot on for this sort of music while Mark’s organ solo fits the mood like a glove. The title track follows with Paul Randolph’s only vocal, his voice slightly more gruff than Wiley’s on a song where Mark’s clavinet style keys give a hint of 70’s disco against which Bobby plays some stinging guitar in his solo. Tom Hogarth sings soulfully as he tells us all the reasons why he loves his girl which make “me want to holler “Ooowee””. “Comin’ Atcha” has a less convincing vocal which appears to be Bobby and bassman Dave in unison though the guitar playing is exemplary.
Barbara Payton provides the only female lead vocal on “Rock My Soul”, a testifying piece of soul with some fine guitar fills from Bobby. Tom Hogarth returns on “Shake It Baby, Shake It” although I did not care for the almost spoken vocals in parts of this one. Wiley is then back on “Baby Needs Some Lovin’ Too”, possibly the strongest track on the whole album, a real piece of sweet soul music for which Bobby finds some lovely phrasing to further enhance the song. A third ‘baby’ song follows with Tom in charge of “Baby, What Took Your Love Away”, Bobby’s guitar again very expressive against a background that sounds almost like a horn section but must be Mark’s keyboards – another great tune! “Bad Case Of The Blues” is a slower paced piece which Bobby starts off with Mark on piano behind him. Lyrically we are in classic blues territory with roosters crowing at dawn, the guy working two jobs, his girl disappearing off to places like Memphis, Chicago and New Orleans, but Wiley’s vocals deliver those familiar themes very well. The last two tracks both feature Tom Hogarth on lead vocals. “Moving On Down The Line” is a shuffle and Bobby gives us some of his most stinging guitar lines here. “Building Of Love” has a strong vocal and chorus but the distorted wah-wah effects are probably the only time on the album that I did not care for Bobby’s playing.
This was the first time I have come across Bobby Murray and I was impressed by his playing and ability to capture the soulful side of the blues. This is a CD worth checking out if you like your blues served up in soulful style with some tasty guitar licks.