Mike Morgan & The Crawl – The Lights Went Out In Dallas
Must Have Music – 2022
13 tracks: 58 minutes
It is great to have a new album from Texan Mike Morgan who produced a string of albums between 1990 and 2008, including several on the Black Top label, working with Darrell Nulisch, Lee McBee and Jim Suhler, amongst others. After his last release on Severn Records in 2008 Mike stopped touring and made his living selling motorcycles, just playing locally at the weekend, but got the itch to play full-time again and this album is the result of that change. Produced by fellow Texan Anson Funderburgh, the album features ten originals and three covers, including roadhouse rockers, tender ballads, Mexican-influenced tunes, accordions, horns and guitars, so a great mix of Texas music. Mike named his band The Crawl after a Lonnie Brooks tune and the current rhythm section (Drew Allain on bass, Kevin Schermerhorn on drums) is supplemented by familiar names like Shawn Pittman on piano, guitar and vocals, Christian Dozzler on piano and accordion and Mike Flanigin on Hammond B3; horns appear on three tracks, courtesy of Chris McGuire. Reo Casey adds guitar, drums and piano to a total of seven tracks, Dave Perez is also on accordion, and backing vocals are added to four tracks by Pappy Middleton and Andrea Wallace. Mike himself is on guitar throughout and handles the vocals on all bar two tracks.
As soon as you take the disc out of the sleeve you are faced with Clint Eastwood’s image, wearing an eye patch, as does Mike himself. Then you put the CD in the player and you hear a stellar version of Jerry McCain’s “Ding Dong Daddy”, pounding piano and Mike dueling on guitar with producer Anson to produce an outstanding cut. There are, of course, Texas shuffles to enjoy, like “Out In The Jungle” and Mike’s slide work on the cover of Joe Clayton’s “Goin’ Down To Eli’s” also stands out. Mike’s voice is better suited to uptempo numbers like “Aiight” (‘All Right’) which has some tough guitar on it, or the rough and tumble rockabilly of “Workin For The Man” (on which he shares vocals with Shawn Pittman) but he does tackle a couple of ballads towards the end of the album, as well as a tribute to “Lazy Lester” who Mike describes as his musical inspiration.
Changing things up, there is a soulful groove to “Please Accept My Love” (not the Percy Mayfield song but a Morgan original), complete with horns, female backing vocals and a lovely, delicate guitar solo, while “A Woman” adds accordion to give a swampy sound to a tune that also has hints of Country. Mike’s guitar playing comes to the fore on the instrumental “Funkafacation” and trumpet adds a border feel to the spoken tale of “The Fracas By The Pecos”. The title track “The Lights Went Out In Dallas” recounts a severe storm which caused damage and loss of life, Mike warning us that “we all take too much for granted as we go from day to day”, the track featuring great guitar work over warm Hammond, making it another standout cut.
It is a genuine pleasure to say ‘Welcome back, Mike Morgan’!