Blue Room's second CD, Great to be Alive, is a real pleasure to listen to from beginning to end. From the first track, "Red Beans and Rice", to the final track, "Southbound Road", the excitement and enjoyment never lets up. "Red Beans and Rice" has a very 'Downchild' feel and approach to it. The horn section led by sax great Norm Ryan is high energy all the way; as are the drums, played with all out abandon by Pat Quinn. The next exciting selection is "Next Exit"; which opens up with some wailing blues harp, well played by Joseph Irvine. Mike Fonfara, Downchild's extremely talented keyboard player, (and ex-Lou Reed/Electric Flag member), lends his musical magic to eight of the 14 superb tracks on this CD -- six of them feature Fonfara on Hammond B3, one on piano, and one on Wurlitzer. "Blues In the City", is a jazzy up-tempo lament about working and not wanting to.
"Sometimes", the fourth spectacular tune on this CD, starts with a melodic guitar solo played by Paul Sanderson, (who wrote or co-wrote 12 of the 14 tracks on Great to be Alive.) "Sometimes love is knowin' where you shouldn't be", the basic theme of this tune, leads appropriately into "Moanin' Mama", an upbeat song, with enchanting vocal harmonies in a call and answer style. The rousing drums on this one were again supplied by Quinn. "Get Outta The House" is an upbeat rocker with melodic bass lines by Fraser Lawrason. The classic musician quarrel of the artist who only wants to play music until it really starts paying; being hounded by his wife to 'get outta the house' and find a real job, is exemplified on this track. "Fall Down, Get Up", ("you've got to be strong to survive"), is an upbeat, rockin' 'n rollin' look at life's pitfalls. Fall down, get up and continue persevering, is the basic premise of this winner; that features some heavy-duty drums courtesy of Frank Watt.
Next comes some real down home rock 'n' roll that pulls out all the stops; starting with Fonfara playing some ripplin', rollin' barrelhouse piano. It's called "Womanly Man", and pokes fun at situations where a guy looks like a girl, and another guy goes after 'her' -- then getting the surprise of a lifetime. Vocalist, Brian Neller's response at finding out the 'truth' is hilarious, and had me laughing all the way through, in this musical spoof. "Spare Change" is a moody and atmospheric jazz influenced blues tune, which has some intelligent and thought provoking lyrics. Their premise is that some things in life which appear to be gold, might only be spare change -- a great way to look at the mistakes we thought at first, weren't.
"Deeper Into The Blues" is up-tempo and energized, featuring Lawrason's throbbing bass lines, along with Neller's raw, natural vocals. "When The Money Runs Dry" is a classic theme of worry, based on the buck - also, heartbreak over losing in romance over negative cash flow. A perfect cure for that sort of blues, is "Wake Up Cryin"; a rousing boogie in the John Lee Hooker style. This tune's incredible guitar work and bass backbeat, complements more of Neller's right-from-the-heart vocals. Its energy could fill any dance floor with wild, shakin' bodies, ready to rock the house up. "Who's On The Telephone", is a moody, atmospheric tune featuring Sanderson's beautiful, jazzy guitar licks -- enhancing Neller's raw, meaningful vocals.
The last tune on this enjoyable CD is entitled "Southbound Road". It opens with Sanderson's slick Southern style slide, which gives one the feeling of wildly driving down a country dirt road in an old jalopy south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Neller's vocals are full of desperation and hope - this, along with the anxious mood of the rhythm section, can allow the listener to feel like they're hurrying down that 'southbound road', attempting to get back to a relationship on shaky ground. All in all, Blue Room's Great to be Alive, is a 'great-to-be-in-any-collection' CD, for anyone who appreciates fine blues performed by those who know how! And these boys know how!
Artist: Blue Room
Title: Great to be Alive
Label: Sound Pulse Inc.
Available through: www.cdbaby.com/blueroom
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