John Tucker has long been a journeyman Blues singer, from his beginnings in Mississippi, onto Memphis, and later singing for USO shows in Germany. Transferred to the Left Coast in the 1960's, "Broadway" Tucker planted roots and has remained a somewhat familiar figure in California for years. "Impromptu Blue" gathers together some good friends with their instruments in tow for a solid Blues outing.
Opening with B.B. King's gem, "The Woman I Love," Tucker gets things off on the right foot from the outset. Bill Heid's piano speaks volumes here as Dave Workman's guitar lays some fine and tasty rhythm work, backing Tucker's powerful vocal style. Heid proves his knowledge of both Blues and jazz laying some downright perfection with his touch on the 88's. Albert King's influence steps up as the band tackles "As The Years Go Passing By" with respect. Workman gets the strings burning on his guitar as Tucker belts out the words to a classic. They take A.C. Reed's "I'm A Jealous Man" forcefully, as David Price and Bili Turner, on bass and drums respectively, provide a solid foundation for the frontline to work from.
They take on Latimore's "Straighten It Out" and move easily from Blues and jazz leanings right into Southern Soul with no problems. Heid adds some sweet Hammond B-3 organ to this chestnut as he does elsewhere on the disc, perhaps no better than on Sonny Boy's "Help Me." Long a favorite of bands from all over the world, Tucker and his cronies add a nice touch here with Workman laying some good licks underneath the horn lines of Ron Coolidge's trumpet and Mark Whitney and Michael Curtin's saxes. Usually a harmonica-led piece, it works well on this CD with its different shadings.
Their version of (If Loving You Is Wrong) "I Don't Want To Be Right" works fairly well, but it's hard to better perfection. "Lonesome Whistle Blues" chugs along at a loping pace with Bill Heid's piano leading the charge, and Tucker's voice sounding absolutely top-shelf on this fine track. Freddy King's take on this is a piece of brilliance, and it's nice to hear it done by these veterans. Bob Geddins penned "Tin Pan Alley" years ago and the countless versions of this warhorse hopefully have helped with royalty checks to Geddins' surviving family. Tucker's voice is in fine form again, as the band plays well, layering the cut with just the right support and licks. The disc closes out with the shuffling "Sometimey Woman" and it's over all too fast.
At around forty minutes, playing time is fair, but content more than makes up for the shorter length of this CD. Recorded without the help of studio tricks or overdubs, it states in the liner notes that what you hear is what went down, "warts and all." There aren't many warts folks. Everyone does a fine job backing Tucker, a strong and potent vocalist. Let's hope we hear more from John "Broadway" Tucker soon. Check online CD retailers for this, or try contacting SLV Management at (831) 384-2609, or just go the label's website at www.BlueMovieRecords.com to grab up a copy of this.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Craig Ruskey, 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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