Bobby Manriquez is a favorite of many musicians across the country. It's no wonder that people like Nils Lofgren speak highly of Manriquez and his prowess as a guitar slinger. "Another Shade of Blue(s)" was entirely self-written, arranged, and produced by Manriquez. That's no small feat, either. Tread a bit on the careful side, however, as this isn't particularly a Blues CD. Manriquez crosses borders left and right leaving no stone unturned.
"The Boogie Man's Comin'" gets rolling quickly as Bobby takes the reins for a stumbling and chopped groove playing some fine guitar. Vocally, he's not going to make anyone forget the likes of Kim Wilson, Curtis Salgado, or others with Midas touched pipes. His range is a little limited and lacking the power of those previously mentioned. But, he puts his all into his efforts, and that transfers well onto the CD. "Another Shade of Blue" is a striking ballad with Blues influences all over it. It's gems like this that make you realize just when you think you've heard it all; well, you haven't. "Goin' Up" follows and smolders along in a funk with more excellent guitar from Manriquez. You get a hint at the depth of his guitar abilities in each track, but he never shows his hand completely. "Smokehouse" is a 'live' track and pulls you in for its short 1:44, a slow burning grinder laced with smoking licks. Yet, I'm curious as to why Manriquez overdubbed his own drum work on a 'live' track.
"FT2" and "B2K" are called 'genre-blending' by some, but to a Blues fan, they'll be little more than filler. Taking funk, rap, hip-hop, soul, rock, Blues and more and throwing them into a pot may make some take notice, but they lack direction. As mentioned above, it's not a Blues CD per-se, but definitely takes a bent in that direction. Support from folks like Nils Lofgren, Sonny Petrosky, Dirk Snider and many others assist Manriquez well, but there's a bit of confusion with little mention of who's where and on what tracks, except for the talents of the leader. Horn sounds crop up, but those are done with keyboards, and there are no less than three possible suspects. A well-done, self-produced effort that deserves listening from anyone who's a fan of Blues laced songwriting. There's a lot here to enjoy, and here's hoping we hear more from Bobby Manriquez in the future. My other hope is that he'll take the guitar chores and leave the rest of the work in the able hands of backing musicians. I'm impressed with a guy who can play drums, keyboards, guitar, percussion, and more, but outside the confines of a well-equipped studio, it means little. Check out www.b-side-blues.com for more info.
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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