Dave Specter- Blues From The Inside Out | Album Review

Dave Specter – Blues From The Inside Out

Delmark Records


12 tracks

Blues From The Inside Out is the brand new CD from Chicago blues guitar legend Dave Specter.  We also get to hear Dave sing for the first time on CD, and I must say he does a darn good job. The CD features super guests musicians, including Jorma Kaukonen on guitar for a couple of tracks and Brother John Kattke on keyboards, organ  and vocals on four tracks.

Daves long career has spanned three and a half decades.  At last count he’s been on over 40 different CDs and is a 2018 inductee into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame last year.  His last album Message in Blue may have been his best ever, and now his new one rivals that with it’s great blend of blues and jazz.  

Dave’s band features Harlan Terson on bass and Marty Binder on drums.  I can’t say there are two better guys who do this for a living- I’ve loved their work for years and they are the real deal! Sarah Marie Young also appears on vocals on the 11th track along with Bill Brichta on acoustic guitar. Ruben Alvarez is featured on percussion for three tracks, too.  The horn section is Liquid Soul Horns (also on three cuts).  They are Mars Williams on tenor sax, John Janowiak on trombone, and Ron Haynes on trumpet.  Long time associate of Dave’s Tad Robinson sings backup on four cuts, Devin Thompson joins Tad on those cuts.

Specter’s vocal debut is on the opening track and it’s the title cut.  He does an admirable job, too,  and croons about paying your dues playing the blues.  His guitar work is, as always, stellar.  He follows up his singing debut with “How Low Can One Man Go” on track 5, which provides us his opinion on Donald Trump.  One can tell from the song’s name where Dave’s affections lie.  One of two Jorma Kaukonen appearances is also on this track, and he does a wonderful job. We get Dave singing with real emotion here. “Asking For A Friend” is the last Specter vocal track (the 6th track), a very cool number about an unfaithful woman.  Specter gives us two superb solos on guitar.  It’s quite clear Dave can sing well enough to front his band, and I hope to hear more of this in the future on his next CDs and live performances; I did get a preview of his vocals this summer at some events, so I was ready to validate how well he did with this CD!

Kattke sings lead on the down home song for track 2, “Ponchatoula Way,” which also has the horn section John delivering a great piano solo. Dave’s guitar solo is also worthy of note. Kattke also sings on “March Through Darkness”which is the next cut.  John sings about tolerance and unity and he give us a very cool and soulful performance.  Kattke follows Specter’s guitar solo with a really well done one organ. Brother John then sings on track 8 on  Kaukonen’s song “The Blues Ain’t Nothin’” which is  some very jazzy blues that also features some spectacular horn work. Kaukonen also plays his guitar  with a solo and going back and forth with Dave. John concludes his appearances with both vocals and piano on track 9 for “Opposites Attract.” The harmonies are pretty as we get treated to more fine keyboard and guitar. We get to hear Sarah Marie’s vocals on the acoustic track “Wave’s Gonna Come.” Daves guitar and the sounds of the surf crashing open the cut and Young then delivers a very fine performance for us.

A Specter album is never complete without some wonderful instrumentals.  He starts with track 4 which is entitled “Sanctifunkious.” Very funky guitar and Kattke delivers some organ that is just outstanding. Track 7 is “Minor Shout,” a minor key, midtempo jaunt with more guitar and organ and some interesting key changes. “Soul Drop” on track 10 has the horns return along with more super guitar and organ.  You can tell Dave and the band are enjoying themselves here. The album finishes up with “String Chillin’,”  a slow and somber piece that builds as Dave shifts gears for a huge guitar solo. Kattke follows that on the piano and then the two of them return to relative calm and work their way to the end of the cut together for a fine finish.

This is another statement album by Specter; flawless guitar, spot on songwriting and now well done vocal work along with a bevy of fine guests will give all blues fans something to enjoy– I most highly recommend this album- you will not regret it!  Also, for your information Dave also has a very well done podcast on the internet with the same title as this new CD.  There are a lot of great interviews and music featured,  and I urge you to check it out at: www.bluesfromtheinsideout.com.

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