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Review Date: October 2007
by John Taylor
Traylor may have been a little confused as this project evolved – originally conceived as a tribute to Elmore James, it morphed into something of a hodge-podge he claims as a “tribute after all, not only to just one person but, to many people.”
So without a cohesive structure, what’s left? A likeable but ultimately unremarkable collection that does indeed include a trio of James’ covers (“My Kinda Woman, the done-to-death “Shake Your Moneymaker,” and “She Done Moved”). Also included are nods to B. B. King, T-Bone, and Big Joe Turner, with the bulk of the remainder Traylor’s originals.
Traylor’s not a great vocalist, though he does excel on a couple of his own compositions in the blue-eyed soul vein (his passionate pleading on “Love Don’t Last” is a highlight). His fretwork is lean and economical (Anson Funderburgh had a hand in the mix and is an obvious influence) but doesn’t really stand out. There’s some fine work from Ron Jones on tenor and baritone sax and Barry Seelen on B3, but the rhythm section (drummer Doug Swancy and Bassist John Garza) rarely rises above workmanlike, and a preponderance of medium-tempo shuffles and muddy sound doesn’t help matters.
Still, while the project may not stand as one of music’s finest moments, it’s a solid, no-nonsense collection of blue-collar blues with a dash of R&B. And with the blues being prodded and pushed in so many directions these days one occasionally longs for basic, unpretentious barroom blues. “Tribute” fits the bill quite nicely.
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