Tinsley Ellis has been kicking around the blues scene for a bunch of years. His songs are generally road tested and representative of what he can actually do live. There's not a lot of studio tricks here, as Tinsley can do it for real where it counts...live on the stage. This is a good CD, with twelve songs written by Tinsley, fully representative of what you would hear at his live shows. Having heard many CD's that don't sound anything like the artist in a live situation, I would have to say that the production and recording on this one is very good.
The CD opens with the title track, 'Hell Or High Water', which is a piano driven, rocking tune. Of course there's plenty of guitar also. 'Hooked' is a basic shuffle tune with a Texas style guitar bass line and call and answer vocals and guitar. 'Mystery To Me' opens with a haunting wah wah pedal and falls clearly into the ballad arena. 'Love Comes
Knockin' moves into Country and Bluegrass territory with pedal bass lines and rolling guitar licks. 'Real Bad Way' reminds me a bit of many of songs from the British invasion in the mid 60's from such groups as The Searchers and the early Hollies. This has a rock beat it's a reflection of the late 50's blues classic songs in a modernized setting. 'All I Can Do' provides a mixture of Hendrix, Gary Moore and similar styles in a guitar heavy rock song. There's plenty of heavy distorted guitar solos here. 'Love Me By Phone' opens with Texas style blues licks and then settles down into a Lonnie Brooks style 12 bar blues. 'Set Love Free' sounds like an acoustic version of a Paul McCartney ballad. It holds down the light end of the stylistic spectrum on this release.
Bottom Line: Great example of what Tinsley sounds like live. Excellent musicianship and good production with a good range of styles. If you like blues/rock guitar based music, then you should like this release. If your already a fan of Tinsley Ellis, then this one will be a must have. If you aren't familiar with his music, then this CD would be a good introduction. I give it 3 out of 4 stars.
Tinsley Ellis - lead Vocals, Guitar
Kenny Kilgore - guitars
Phillip "Philzone" Skipper, Bass
Scott Callison - Drums
Kevin McKendree - organ, piano
Donna Hopkins - background vocals.
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