Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lil' Cliff & the Cliffhangers -- "The Lovin' Kind"

Lil' Cliff & the Cliffhangers are a harmonica-based blues & R&B band based in metro New York. They have been bringing their unique blend of blues/swing and R&B for over 20 years in New York & New Jersey. The band were International Blues Challenge finalists in 2006, and in 2008 they released their first cd, "God Bless Women," (Shankbone Records). This is their second disc. Members of the band are Lil' Cliff Bernard on harp and lead vocals, Richard Street on double bass and vocals, Dennis Phelps on guitar and vocals, and Frank Patterson on drums and vocals. Also playing on this disc are Manny Focarozza on keyboards, Jack Licitra on accordion on three tracks, Sweet Suzi Smith on backing vocals on three tracks, Tex Sax on saxophones on three tracks, and John Abbey who edited "Spank That Monkey." Eight of the fifteen tracks are originals, written by Lil' Cliff or Richard Street, and they are wonderful songs, complete with robust harmonies and stomping spiritual fervor. The covers are done in the Lil' Cliff style, and they are stand outs, jumping out of the speakers with high energy and joy--including a ripping harp workout on Big Walter Jacob's "Up The Line," a beautiful take of Doc Pomus' "Lonely Avenue," a take of Leiber & Stoller's "Three Cool Cats" with Richard Street on lead vocals, and a lively, joyful bass heavy take of Willie Dixon's "Twenty-Nine Way (To My Baby's Door)."

The playing is silky smooth, and the baritone vocals by Lil' Cliff take center stage by storm. The harmonies are a wonderful addition to the genre. With a few more releases and some promotion, these guys could be right up there with Roomful of Blues.
This disc will certainly help get them in that direction. It is a fun, energetic jump-style disc, a full step forward from "God Bless Women." Completely delightful.

You can buy this disc at

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