Cute name. Good, if not great, disc.
Sy Klopps is new to me; apparently he owns his own recording studio in Berkeley, where he's been performing regularly for the past ten years. On this, his second outing and first for a nationally distributed label, his studio experience is amply evident; production values are top notch as he leads a big, brassy combo through a set of uptown, blue-eyed blues and soul.
Things open with a blast on Boz Scagg's "Running Blue," as Michael Peloquin's horn arrangements lead the way; next up is "Wherever I Lay My Hat," familiar to many from Paul Young's pop-chart-topper in the eighties; here's it's taken at a jaunty pace with funky guitar work by Ralph Woodson. Sy shows he can croon with the best on Sam Cooke's "You Gotta Move," driven along by great piano from Herman Eberitzsch, then reinforces it with pure doo-wop on "Talk To Me," complete with backup chorus and a nice trumpet solo from Tom Poole.
Things heat up as the band tears through Harold Burrage's "Cryin' For My Baby," where Mr. Peloquin shows he's as good on harmonica as he is on sax. Not that he blows a lot of notes, mind - it's a matter of taste and control, both apparent in spades. Then it's back to the street corner for Little Willie John's "Walk Slow." Again, one would have to guess Sy spent a lot of time listening to the great vocal combos of the Fifties. "Stand By Me" isn't the Ben. E. King chestnut - rather, it's a loping take on a tune from the pen of Herman Parker that oddly enough sounds like a cross between the better-known title and, ironically, the aforementioned Paul Young cover of "Wherever I Lay My Hat."
"The Rock" is probably the weakest title on the disc; here's where the production gets away from Sy, with the horns, snarling guitar, and background vocals all fighting for attention. Less, in this case, would have been more.
"Living In The House Of The Blues" rides a Tin Pan Alley style groove, with a slick, soaring solo from Mr. Woodson, before the party's brought to a close with a jazzy "Appetite For Love" that sets a nice, romantic late-night kind of mood. Here, too, Sy sounds uncannily like Paul Young, albeit without the latter's grit.
Hard to say who this one will appeal to; it doesn't really declare itself as belonging in either the blues or jazz camps, and the doo-wop stuff may put some off. Still, it's an enjoyable listen - every tune has a catchy hook and the arrangements, with only an exception or two, are both interesting and tasteful.
And hey - cute name!
Rounder Records Corp.,
One Camp Street,
Cambridge Massachusetts 02140
This review is copyright © 2001 by John Taylor, 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!