Ray Fuller and The Bluesrockers – Pay The Price | Album Review

Ray Fuller and The BluesrockersPay The Price

Azuretone Records


14 Tracks/47:57

A true road warrior, Ray Fuller has been playing music professionally for the last forty-five years, mixing tours of one-nighters with frequent trips to far-flung gigs outside of the USA. With his slashing slide guitar style and solid backing from the Bluesrockers, Fuller’s music is exactly the right tonic when you want to hit the local roadhouse on a Saturday, looking for music that drives away that stress of a mundane work week.

There is little difference between the eight Fuller original tunes and six covers. The band is adept at creating a hard-edged, driving sound that is often irresistible. The opener, “Hoodoo Train,” teems with palpable energy as Fuller delves into the pleasures and mystery of a journey deep into Louisiana. The title track sports a solid foundation from drummer Tutu Jumper and long-time Bluesrocker Manny Manuel on bass. Fuller has a strong voice, and his years of experience have taught him to take his time,to let the story unfold at an unhurried pace.

Another highlight, “Mean And Evil Woman,” slows the pace way down on a familiar tale of a toxic, one-sided relationship. Doc Malone adds some anguished harp licks that are buried in the mix, particularly during his solo. “Bad Luck And Trouble” finds Fuller employing a slide tone that recalls the legendary Johnny Winter with a touch of J.B. Hutto. The lyrical content on tracks like “Peraline” and “Keep On Keepin’ On” consists of a string of platitudes, but it won’t matter once the band overwhelms you with their full-throttle, rocking attack. Malone is more prominently featured on “Devil Woman,” another gut-bucket blast of venom directed at a captivating enchantress.

An energetic cover of the familiar “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” has an arresting vocal turn from the leader, along with tightly drawn slide licks. “Mojo Hand,” a staple of Lightnin’ Hopkins repertoire, is done as a primal stomper. A lesser-known Chuck Berry tune, “I Will Not Let You Go,” will undoubtedly be a quick way to fill barroom dance floors. Fuller doesn’t pull any punches on Louisiana Red’s “Alabama Train,” as Malone gives his harp an extended workout. Two more standards finish off the disc – “My Father Was A Jockey’ and “Tore Up”. The former rolls along thanks to sharp interplay between Fuller and Malone, while the latter provides the guitarist one last chance to rock.

Typically considered an artist you need to hear live, Ray Fuller has channeled all of those years of hard-earned experience into a well-crafted studio release that neatly summarizes his lengthy career. His warm vocals, gritty guitar, and colorful songs encompass a lifetime of love, loss, and redemption, of the price paid,  that will ring true on every listen.

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