Livin' Large is the title of Big Mike Griffin's latest CD on his own label,
Chrome Link Records. The title just about describes Big Mike and everything about him
to perfection. Griffin is a big man (6'10", 350 pounds) who enjoys big cigars,
big motorcycles (he rides Harley Davidson's) and getting a big sound from the
guitars that look like toys in his big hands. Livin' Large is Big Mike's third CD on
Chrome Link and his sixth production overall. Unlike his stripped down road show, Livin' Large packs a full musical punch that includes the rhythm section of Steve Vines (bass) and Johnny Bird (drums), complimented by Jim "Fish" Michie (piano/Hammond B-3), Paco Shipp (harmonica), Steve Harman (trumpet) and Dennis Taylor (saxophones).
Background vocals are handled by the trio of Essra Mohawk, Miranda Louise and Monty
Byrom. Byrom and Vines are members of the country-blues band Big House.
The most special quest on Livin' Large is another "big man" who has had a tremendous influence on rock, blues and soul music, Buddy Miles. Miles, whose resume includes his significant work with Electric Flag, Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, plays drums on two tracks, "Oh Pretty Woman" and "Blues For Mr. B." He also provides lead vocals on "Oh Pretty Woman" and additional background vocals throughout the recording, most notably on Ry Cooder's "Down In Hollywood."
The CD begins with the title track, "Livin' Large," and builds momentum right through to
the final cut, Eddy Clearwater's "I Wouldn't Lay My Guitar Down." Big Mike's guitar is
ever present throughout the recording, along with solos by his sidemen, particularly Jim
Michie on keyboards and Paco Shipp on songs like "Too Many Drivers," "Blues
For Mr. B" and "Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy." Griffin's slide guitar is exceptional
on "I'll Be Your Monkey" which is one of the more humorous songs on the CD.
Among my favorites on Livin' Large are Mike Griffin's fine versions of "Down
In Hollywood" and "Oh Pretty Woman." These songs allow Buddy Miles to display
his distinctive vocals both as a lead and a background singer. Miles vocals are distinctive and strong, complimenting Griffin's fine guitar and the music perfectly.
Livin' Large is one of Big Mike Griffin's best and most ambitious efforts.
With his cool mix of rock, blues, soul and r+b, there is literally something for everyone
to enjoy about the recording. To pick up a copy of Livin' Large or any of Mike Griffin's
earlier recordings, visit his website at www.bigmikegriffin.com. Take a ride with
Big Mike as he is Livin' Large; it will be BIG fun!
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, 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.
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