Monday, October 31, 2011

Sugar Ray & the Bluetones -- "Evening"

Sugar Ray & the Bluetones have been around as a group since 1979, and in that time they have made a bucketful of great music. Sugar Ray's last cd, 2007's "My Life, My Friends, My Music" was terrific, earning four nominations for Blues Music Awards. This time out, Sugar Ray is back with the Bluetones, which means it is chock full of great playing and great songs by great musicians having a ball. Sugar Ray Norcia leads on vocals and harmonica. "Monster" Mike Welch is filling the guitar chair. Michael "Mudcat" Ward is on bass and Neil Gouvin is on drums. Anthony Geraci is on piano. There are twelve songs here, including nine originals and three covers--and the originals are all terrific, especially Welch's "Hard To Get Along With" and Norcia's "I Like What You Got." The covers are "You Know My Love," written by Willie Dixon and known best by the great Otis Rush, and MItchell Parish & Harry White's "Evening," known best by T-Bone Walker or Jimmy Rushing, and Johnny Young's "I'm Having A Ball." My favorite song here is "I'm Certain That I'm Hurting," which has some hot guitar by Monster Mike, a great piano turn by Anthony Geraci AND cooking vocals and a harp solo by Sugar Ray.

Sugar Ray's vocals may be an acquired taste to some blues lovers, but after 20+ years I say "Let the man sing." Me, I enjoy the way Sugar Ray sings. His harmonica playing is relaxed and spot-on throughout. On this new disc, everything is tight and right, with a heaping dose of Sugar Ray's blues soul, but without even one second of anything stiff or old fashioned. A very welcome addition to the blues library.

This cd was released on Severn Records on October 18, and you can buy it at:

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