Sugar King James and the Chessmasters – Gotta Make a Comeback! | Album Review

Sugar King James and the Chessmasters – Gotta Make a Comeback


CD: 12 Songs, 38 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Horn Blues

Gotta Make a Comeback, the new cover album from Florida’s Sugar King James and the Chessmasters, delivers exactly what their webpage promises: “Great Music, Great Memories, Great Fun!” James O’Neill and company go all out on their twelve-track tribute to some of the greatest blues masters of all time, such as AC Reed (“Buddy Buddy Friends”), Bob Troup (“Route 66”), Willie Dixon (“Mellow Down Easy,” “Spoonful”) and, of course, one McKinley Morganfield (“One More Mile”). This ensemble’s good-natured rapport and smooth horn section bring out the best of such stalwart standards. On vocals, Sugar King is as personable as your next-door neighbor and as tongue-in-cheek as any standup comedian. The quality of the musicianship is higher than a kite – and your mood throughout this entire CD. It may not have any original material, but that hardly matters when the band has risen to the challenge of making old favorites new again. These renditions will surely get you out of your seat and on your feet.

You might recognize our leading man from earlier days and an earlier name: James O’Neill and the Silver Shadows. He’s been a part of Florida’s music scene since 1965, taking piano lessons at the tender age of five and picking up the guitar ten years later. After graduating from law school in 1978, he returned to the Tampa Bay area and formed his band, dedicating his life to music. Their studio accolades include Morris Sound Studios in Tampa, Big 3 Studios in St. Petersburg (the top of the-line studio in the Tampa Bay area, at which this release was recorded), and even the iconic Abbey Road.

“The Players” include Sugar King (vocals, guitar, slide guitar and harmonica); Buddie Emmons II on bass guitar; Mark Halisky on keyboards, trumpet and background vocals; Rick Cronce and Robin Bren on tenor sax; Eddie St. Clair on baritone sax; Tim Conway on drums, and Jim “Pinky” Beeman on percussion.

The best of classic blues makes a spirited Comeback on the latest from Sugar King James and the Chessmasters!

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