Kelly Z – Rescue | Album Review

Kelly Z – Rescue

Self-Release – 2017

8 tracks; 31 minutes

Kelly Zirbes and her band Kelly’s Lot operate in the Los Angeles area and have recorded a number of albums since the mid-90’s. This particular album is an oddity as it was recorded in 2011 and then left on the shelf. When producer Chuck Kavooras and Kelly were discussing a future project they decided to pick up the tapes and issue the album. Clearly intended as a vehicle for Kelly’s vocals, the album contains eight covers of mostly soul and Rn’B songs with a full horn section added to the core band. Kelly handles the lead vocals with John Marx on guitar, Mo Beeks on keys, Rick Reed on bass, Bryan Head on drums and a horn section of Andy Najera on sax and Stan Martin on trumpet. Roy Wiegand adds a second trumpet to one track, Barry Goldberg plays B3 on the same track and Chuck Kavooras adds slide, Perry Robertson and Jack Wargo guitar to a track each. Background vocals are provided by Teresa James, Shari Puorto and Lisa Orloff Staley.

Kelly sounds convincing on James Brown’s “What Do I Have To Do” with plenty of funk from the band, blaring horns and solid backing vocals. Her voice seems less suited to “Baby It’s You” (Bacharach/David) though the horn arrangement is great; the song was a 1961 hit for the Shirelles, later covered by The Beatles on their debut album Please Please Me. “You Don’t Realise” is a Michael Bloomfield slow blues from The Electric Flag’s album A Long Time Comin’ and it’s well done, with the extra trumpet making the horns really stand out and Kelly sings it well, mainly in the lower register.

Kelly clearly admires Tina Turner as she reprises a pair of Ike and Tina songs next: “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” was an early success for Ike and Tina and is a lovely tune, once covered as an instrumental by Ry Cooder (on Bop Till You Drop). This version has wonderful harmonies and Ike’s original rejoinders to Tina’s expectations are copied here by Perry Robertson. The later “Trying To Find My Mind” works less well with some rather crude drums and Kelly’s voice stretched. The soul ballad “He Called Me Baby” is best known from Candi Staton’s version and suits Kelly’s voice much better. Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” seems a little flat in comparison before this short album finishes with the classic “You Are My Sunshine”, a song that dates back to 1939 and is a state song of Louisiana because of its credited author Jimmie Davis, who served two terms as Governor. Kelly’s version probably channels Aretha Franklin’s version with its funky approach.

When material remains unreleased one always wonders why. In this case it sounds as if more needed to be done as the album is very short and a couple of tracks sound under-produced. Nevertheless there are some good moments to enjoy.

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