Bill Perry readily admits that he is tremendously influenced by the great bluesmen of the past (B.B. King, Albert Collins, and especially Freddie King) and that he is equally torn by the fiery rock guitars (Clapton, Hendrix, Duane Allman, and Johnny Winter) that he grew up with. This allows his synthesis of both into what he calls "doing something different with the blues". After professional stints working with Ritchie Havens, and then Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, Bill Perry struck out on his own course. This is Perry's fourth solo CD release, and the first on the Blind Pig label.
Make no mistake about Perry's seasoning; he has added spice which makes his combination of earthy vocals and strong guitar action a dynamite attraction. The New York native shows his considerable chops in front of co-producer and guitarist Jimmy Vivino. Jimmy also provides background vocals, organ, and mandolin as needed. In the engine room is the great Johnny B. Gayden on bass and Rob Curtis churning up the drum action. Frank Pagano handles the percussion and guest Jerry Vasilitos helps out on bass on one track. David Bennett Cohen is heard tickling the keys and chiming the piano strings.
Three of the eleven tunes here are written by Perry, two by Vivino, and three are co-authored by the pair. Covers from Ted Horowitz, Sammy Davis, and the title tune penned by Vivino and Weider fill out the set. Throughout, there is a general slowing of Perry's previous pyrotechniques to give quarter to a more refined soloing and even some acoustic stringing. A fulfilling air surrounds most compositions with tasty keyboards and sweet guitar phrasings. Sharpening his vocal chops, Perry also stretches into some very passionate readings.
Look for hard hitting, jumped, and sometimes sparking rhythms on which Perry brings to fore his stupendous guitar picking, string stretching, and note bending. Taking off hard from the start, Perry jumps up with a chuggin' shuffle by Vivino called "Itchin' For It", and follows with his own swamp-rocked "Clean Thing". The title tune and other melded blues-rock cuts like "Pressure", "Born In New York", and "Heaven In A Pontiac" give Perry's music a contemporary lyricism and a hard felt realism drawn directly from the current rat race.
Bill Perry's blues lend themselves to a recombinant style that, on this release, has strong characteristics of rock but equal folk influences that come across in acoustic terms (i.e., "I Can't See The Light Of Day"). His ingredients, when heated up, distill into a potent blues-rock brew. With count-on-it, in-the-pocket grooves from the boiler room, Perry has firm foundation upon which he builds his layered, and textured guitar styling; mixing subtle passes with blinding and blistering solos. This is powerfully extenuating guitar prowess with equally explosive vocals and background support. You miss this and it's your own fault!
Blind Pig Records; P.O. Box 2344; San Francisco, CA 94126: or, www.blindpigrecords.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.