The Proven Ones – You Ain’t Done
The Proven Ones are Jimi Bott on drums and percussion, Willie J. Campbell on bass, Anthony Geraci on all things keyed, Kid Ramos on guitar, and Brian Templeton on vocals and harp. Also appearing on trumpet is Joe “Mack” McCarthy and on tenor sax is Chris Mercer; they shared the horn arrangements. Mike Zito adds acoustic guitars and backing vocals on a few tracks and LaRhonda Steele also does some backing vocals.
“Get Love” is a big, hard rocking cut with a short and cool intro prior to it. Templeton sings with raw emotion and Ramos blazes on his guitar. “Gone To Stay” follows with some slick horn arrangements added for fun. It’s a mid-tempo, rock-a-billy meets late ‘70’s rocker that has a good groove. The title track is up next, a strident blues rocker with horns, organ and a big guitar sound. There are some great solos here and Steele’s backing vocals are a good addition. “Already Gone” has a twangy, southern rock feel to it in Templeton’s vocals and Ramo’s guitar. “Whom My Soul Loves” features guest vocalist Ruthie Foster fronting the band with Templeton. The song really has a feeling like The Band for me. Great keyboard work by Geraci along with the impressive vocals by Foster and Templeton make this special, and the horns and guitar are also well done which makes things even better. The song builds to an emotional and impassioned conclusion- well done!
“Milinda” starts the second half and Ramos gives us some pretty slide work to kick it off. More country/southern rock mixed in here; Templeton sings with good feeling as Ramos’ guitar and Geraci’s piano offer apt support. We get a bit of a Santana groove going with “Nothing Left to Live.” The guitar lead and percussion have some African-Latin influences and the horns really blare! “She’ll Never Know” is up next, a slower blues rocker with good horns and backing vocals; Templeton lays it out vocally for al to enjoy and Ramos gives us some pretty licks, too. Up next is “I Ain’t Good For Nothing;” here Mike ZIto takes on the lead vocals while Templeton delivers some harp for us to enjoy. The vocals are a bit thinner and I don’t think compare favorably in comparison to the rest of the album. Trumpet, sax and piano also give solid solos here and the guitar work remains stoically solid. “Fallen” is a darker blues rocker blending guitar, horns, and piano into a great sound as Templeton gives a really passionate performance and Steel is there in fine support, too. “Favorite Dress” concludes the album with more well done music. Templeton sings with emotion and power, the guitar is spot on, the piano work is top notch and the horns are once more excellent. It’s a really good conclusion to a really good set of tunes- they were all great!
Mike Zito and the folks at Gulf Coast Records have produced a fine blues rock album that leans way more to the rock side than blues with this all-star ensemble of musicians. The sound is exceptional, the musicianship is outstanding and the songs are first rate. I really enjoyed this disc- it’s really some good, kick-ass rocking blues!