Sixteen years ago Michael Coleman was heralded as one of Chicago's brightest young blues stars on the Alligator compilation "The New Bluesbloods". Known best for his 1980s tenure with James Cotton, Coleman developed his lowdown guitar skills while performing with Aaron Burton, Johnny Christian, Muddy Waters and Eddy Clearwater.
So far prominent recognition level has eluded Michael. However, like so many others this isn't due to his majestic talent. This CD will set him on an eminence front. The 66 minute, no border CD covers the gamut of roots music via 12 tracks including two originals. Michael's embracing vocals and jangling guitar are heard on blues, soul, funk and R&B numbers made popular by the likes of Jimmy Reed, Isaac Hayes, Peter Green, Latimore and Otis Redding. Included are some hearty jams which make some tunes last for seven minutes. They don't come funkier than Michael Coleman whether you compare him to soul icon James Brown or Chicago colleague Big James Montgomery.
"The Train" is an infectious, repetitive ride that will have you hopping on this railroad like an old-time hobo. Marty Sammon's burbling keyboards and the explosive horns (trumpet, sax & trombone) fuel this locomotive with more energy than steam and diesel combined. Here, Coleman's vocal harmonies are baffling. The horns add their extra groove to a couple other numbers namely the title track and the ultra-funky "Breakfast In Bed". Matthew Skoller tackles the challenge of blowing harp on a tune associated with Junior Wells, "Help Me". The instinctive arrangement showcases Michael's astounding rhythm and lead guitar work and ability to lead the band. He gets down while being all funked up on "Message of Love". "Cold, Cold Feeling" is sweaty, slow and serious while "Black Magic Woman" is a brilliantly arranged instrumental. Here, the organ is so heavy, it may collapse your lungs. Vince Varco's soft, sexy strings bring out Coleman's romantic side on "Let's Straighten It Out". Throughout, the fused rhythm is punctuated by Willie 'Vamp' Samuels (bass), Sam Green (bass) and Merle Perkins (drums).
Sure for those already enjoying the pleasures of roots music, there are too many cover songs. On some, Michael's vocals and arrangements don't always mix well with the original. Still, these modern day interpretations are more than mere imitations. Thus, this is one of those albums that will attract new fans to the blues. If you like dapper guitar and acrobatic keyboards, groove on and jam on with Funky Michael Coleman. This smooth-picking, hipster is one of the most authentic, contemporary Chicago blues artists to appear on Bob Koester's old label. Shame on him for bypassing this state-of-the-art musician from this year's 50th anniversary blues collection.
For CDs, booking and information, contact: Delmark Records, 4121 N. Rockwell, Chicago, IL 60618 USA Website: www.delmark.com Artist website: www.funkymichaelcoleman.com
Tim Holek - Freelance Journalist/Photographer - www.mnsi.net/~thblues
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