Native Arkansan Michael Burks has grown out of a musical family that included his bluesmen father and grandfather. Growing up with the blues of T-Bone Walker, B.B.-Albert-and Freddie King, and Albert Collins, young Michael has sharpened his ax skills since the age of six. A phenomenal string-bender and a technical perfectionist, Michael evokes the shades of all his aforementioned mentors. His muse calls him to deliver clear, crisp, bent and stretched notations and phrasing. His ability to turn any blues groove into a monstrous jam based on taut ax lines and mellow vocals has many recalling those great masters, effectively tossing their hats into his ring!
Following his debut From The Inside Out , which came out in 1999 on Alabama's Vent Records, he acquired a new-found fame that has led him to wider audiences and this current Alligator release working with some veteran sessionists including Vasti Jackson at the rhythm guitar post. Ernest Williamson on the keyboards comes across with a full tone, while Dave Smith on bass and Steve Potts on the drums deliver the power-laden foundation beats. The frosting on this mix are the Acme Horns: delivered by Jim Spake on saxes, and Scott Thompson on the trumpet and flugelhorn.
Find Burks blistering blues opening with Jackie Payne's "Hit The Ground Running" and progressing into the literal blues of Chris Anderson's "Got A Way With Woman." The organ-ized "What Can a Man Do" and the almost six-minute version of Travis Haddix' "Beggin' Business" are both filled with fluid licks and transversing rhythms. Burks' own writing on "Voodoo Spell" and "Don't Let It Be A Dream," and a co-written effort with John Hahn, "Everybody's Got Their Hand Out" give further credence to Burks' familiarity with southern soulful blues. After all Burks built his professional resume playing in the bands of Johnnie Taylor and O.V. Wright.
We could talk about how good each cut is on this platter, but it's probably better that you find out yourself. With a facility for power-stroking, eye-poppin', gut-bustin' axe work, Burks can also set you back on your heels with an accomplished and polished voice. Producers on this effort are Burks, label owner Bruce Iglauer, and the incomparable Jim Gaines. Definitely a platter that will be all over the blues-award nomination lists, Make It Rain, will be on your most played list also.
Alligator Records; P.O. Box 60234; Chicago, IL 60660; or, www.alligator.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.
Click button to join
our mailing list!