After a short and needed hiatus, Cleveland Fats is back with a vengeance. His second solo effort Pretty Poison comes across in as traditional a style as his earlier The Other Side Of Midnight (one of my absolute favorites from 1996). Fats is from the Cleveland area, and may be better recognized as the second guitar behind Robert Lockwood Jr. for nearly two decades. An adherent to Delta stylings, Fats makes no bones about his allegiance to standard blues formula. A masterful guitarist, Cleveland Fats has absorbed his influences and shows a continued movement on his own blues path.
This batch of ten new tunes are written, scored, and arranged by Fats. With another crew of musicians and some special old friends, Hahn comes out stronger than ever. His solitaire vocals and beautifully crafted guitar phrasings and notation are supported by Roger McClain on the bass and Durell Williams pounding the skins. On the saxophone is 'Doc Tom Thomas and Mark Frederick tickles the ivories. Guests include Jack Kidney on the harmonica, and Lockwood bassist Gene Schwartz turning in the bass work on three tracks.
"Be Careful What You Wish For" is the advice he opens with. He follows with the seven-minute-plus title cut "Pretty Poison" It's sweet, dripping and fluid guitar action is in your face while the piano is soothing on the side. With a blazin sax solo as well, this tune like all the others here cooks with simmering melodies and thunderously vigorous backing. Catch the rockin' shuffle needed to propel "Boatload Of Trouble"; listening to the lyrics you can understand the tempo. Fats' writing all through reflects a voluminous musical knowledge and integrity; performed with the same blues veracity, you'll understand why he's a favorite.
Fats lays his soul out to dry on "Don't Think That I Don't Love You", kicks with a pop flavor on "Your Smile Is My Sunshine"; and engages the listener with damn fine material. He is bluesman par excellent, and this disc is righteously with it. Hope you can get your hands on this one; the limited edition will make this a valuable addition to anyone's collection.
Cleveland Fats (Mark Hahn); P.O. Box 1101; Ravenna, Ohio 44266:
or , email@example.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.