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Review Date: Nov 2008
by Pete Feenstra
Always a great interpreter of songs, Mike Harrison was the voice of Spooky Tooth who for the past two decades has just about maintained something of a presence in Germany with the estimable Hamburg Blues Band. Indeed he took on the mantle of Ray Charles long ago but never quite broke through in his own right. The fact that he hasn't quite enjoyed the same success as say Roger Chapman or indeed Chris Farlowe is partly because of his self imposed exile from the music biz. And that is a shame as he still has a fine voice. On the other hand the lack of a breakthrough has probably has as much to do with the search for good material as on the evidence of this album his voice has been well preserved.
But although 'Late Starter' is a solid enough album, you can be forgiven for asking why Mike has chosen such a batch of obvious songs from 'Jealous Kind' and 'Out of the Rain' to 'Let's Go Get Stoned' and indeed a forgettable slow blues 'Come Back Baby'. Throw in a wistful cover of Delbert Clinton's 'I've Got Dreams to Remember', and you have the kind of set that Joe Cocker might have warmed to a few years ago. But even Joe has moved on to newer material and would certainly have had a producer whispering in his ear suggesting a few more up tempo songs.
Things do lighten up on the Frankie Miller's 'A Fool in Love' and 'I Can Give You Everyhing' a well crafted mid tempo rocker, but you can't help but feel Mike is happiest when in ballad mode, delivering some emotive phrasing as on another Frankie Miller outing 'The Rock' . The song is well suited to Mike's gritty vocal style and he also makes a good fist of Ray Charles's 'Drown in My Own Tears' and delivers the album highlight with a cover of Boz Scaggs's 'Your Good Thing (Is About to End)' complete with a beautiful piano accompaniment.
'Late Starter' might hopefully pick up some late night radio airplay and is a well produced and solidly enough performed album, but ultimately the 14 song set cries out for just a little more spark.
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