Nicholas Alexander – Lil Hoochie | Album Review

Nicholas Alexander – Lil Hoochie


10 Tracks – 42 Minutes

Nicholas “Nick” Alexander is the son of legendary Chicago Bluesman Linsey Alexander. Linsey was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1942. His mother moved Linsey and his sister to Memphis when he was twelve years old.  He pawned his first guitar for a bus ticket to Chicago in 1959. He took on many different jobs after arriving in the Windy City, but ultimately joined the Chicago Police Department. All the while he played in bands with many of the major blues musicians. He retired from the force at age 58 after being wounded in the line of duty. But this prompted him to start up a new career move as a full- time bluesman.

Obviously, Nicholas was around the blues for most of his life and with his dad’s involvement in the music scene, he was able to make connections with many other musicians. He cites his influences beyond his father as Albert King and Buddy Guy but notes he has a passion for the energy of sixties and seventies soul music with a particular fondness for James Brown. This is his debut album, which he cites as featuring many of the songs he heard his dad play or record.

Nicholas plays guitar and does all of the lead vocals. he is joined by Melvin Carlile on drums, David Forte on bass, Brian Lupo on guitar, Roosevelt Purifoy, Jr. on organ, Dan Souvigny on keyboards and guitar, Bryant Parker on congas and background vocals, with horns by Derrick Tate, Ryan Nyther, and Royce Harrington-Turner.

The album opens with an “Intro” with Linsey doing vocals and introducing Nicholas on guitar, citing him as a “little f…ing brat, but I love him”. It then immediately jumps into Nicholas performing James Brown’s “Popcorn” with the sax blasting through the song and Nicholas doing many of Brown’s signature squeals. “Dial Your Number” moves into a more traditional blues mode as he begs a woman to give him her phone number. “Outskirts of Town” was written by William Weldon back in 1936, recorded by Louis Jordan in 1941, was re-popularized by Ray Charles in 1961, and has been recorded by many other artists over the years including The Allman Brothers and Buddy Guy. Dan’s piano work is a standout on this song and Nicholas powers a driving guitar.

“Moving To the Country” shifts him back into a horn-led funk mode with Roosevelt’s organ underlying in the music. He then shifts back into “Soul Power”, another song from the James Brown songbook. Little Milton’s song “Grits Ain’t Groceries” is shifted to “Mona Lisa Was a Man” on this album, with some variance in the original lyrics. Nicholas again uses the song to show a burst of guitar energy.

Ray Charles’ “I Believe to My Soul” even carries a verse where Nichaolas references “Last night you were dreaming, and I heard you say Oh Johnny! when you know my name is Ray”. He delivers the song with bursts of guitar.  He declares “I’m Tired” “of you” and moves back into some rocking, horn-soaked blues and another excellent piano run from Dan. He concludes the album with another James Brown song, “Make It Funky”.

Nicholas clearly delivers some guitar prowess and shows some vocal capability, but I find that he delivers little to demonstrate a personal capability instead preferring to emulate the performers of the original songs with an occasional burst of guitar energy. I would welcome a chance to hear him offer some original material demonstrating his own musical direction instead of a series of covers.

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