18 songs – 74 minutes
Like a fine wine, Travis Haddix continues to provide great pleasure as he matures. If anything, he might be still improving. Now approaching 80 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down his relentless touring and recording – hot on the heels of his latest studio CD, Love Coupon, which was favorably reviewed in the 14 September 2015 issue of Bluesblast Magazine, comes It’s My Turn Now – The Best Of.
As the title indicates, It’s My Turn Now is a retrospective of Haddix’s career, although when you have released 20 albums as a solo artist, selecting the tracks for a “Best Of” album cannot be a simple task. Perhaps reflecting the consistency of his recordings over the years, Haddix has selected one track from each of 12 different albums, together with two from Winners Never Quit and four new recordings. And the consistently high quality of his songs and performances over the years is striking.
Long time listeners to Haddix’s music will know what to expect: funky modern blues, well executed, with clever (and often risqué) lyrics sung in that sly, half-spoken style that recalls the great Albert Collins. The four new songs feature the crack band of Ed Lemmers on bass, Gil Zachary on piano and keys, Jeremy Sullivan and Derick Cooley on drums, David Pritchett on organ, Bob Frank on rhythm guitar and the wonderful horns of David Ruffin (tenor sax), Norm Tischler (alto sax), T.J. Fortunato (baritone sax) and Scott Tenney (trumpet). Each song sits perfectly with the other tracks on the album. “Go On From There with Prayer” is a gospel-infused ballad with lovely organ from Pritchett. “Two Heads Are Better Than One” is an upbeat, one-chord funky little number with nice horns in which Haddix (with tongue firmly in cheek) blames his outré lyrics on his wife. The slow blues of “It’s My Turn Now” is classic old-school Chicago blues, with a belting solo from Haddix and “Put Your Finger In It” is a fine mid-paced blues with a guitar riff that hints at Hubert Sumlin’s famous “Killing Floor” lick, if it had been played by Steve Cropper.
Highlights abound. The BB King-esque solo on “Don’t Get Too Comfortable” is outstanding. It’s impossible to listen to the wry lyrics of “Cialis Before I See Alice” without a smile, as Haddix laments over a stop-time verse: “I know a lady named Alice, she lives way across town. I know what Alice wants every time I come around. I’m almost as old as sin and I’m running out of pep. Every now and then, I need a little help. I need Cialis before I see Alice.” And the pop groove and restraint on “Winners Never Quit” is simply glorious.
For his fans, It’s My Turn Now – The Best Of is a fine reminder of the consistently high quality of Travis Haddix’s music over the years, and is worth picking up for the four new tracks. If you haven’t heard Haddix before, this is a great place to start.