Calvin Owens has assembled an 18 piece big band, playing big band blues for this album. Special guests include B.B. King, Johnny Copeland, David "Fathead" Newman, B.J. Scott and Shelley Carroll. Calvin for many years was B.B.King's musical director, so I guess it was payback time for B.B. as he features on the opening track "True Blue" with his signature guitar playing on a lively brass fueled number with a great trumpet solo from Calvin. Calvin gets to sing on "Hot Burning Love" with some good playing from B.B. and David "Fathead" Newman also gets to play his sax on this smoldering laid back song. "Texas Stomp" shows us the Texas swing of the band, very fitting as Calvin is from Houston, Cesar Jansens has to have a special mention as his drumming on this instrumental is a stand out feature. Johnny Copeland is featured on three numbers, "Woke Up Screaming" has some great upfront brass work featuring Calvin and David Newman backing Johnny 's frantic vocal, on a song which was written by Johnny and Calvin.
Johnny's vocal on "Cherry Red" is less frantic, though more grittier and earthy and the track builds very well into a great sax solo finish from Shelley Carroll. E.C. Scott is the featured singer on two songs, "Dreams Come True" shows E.C. can really belt out a song with her very strong voice over a really punchy song that was written by herself and Calvin. E.C.'s other vocal on "Don't You Want A Woman Like Me" is another strong band driven workout for E.C. featuring some nice guitar playing from Yan De Bruyn and great trumpet playing from Calvin.
Calvin starts "Lick or Split" as a soloist and is gradually joined by the band on this great building track which features some great guitar playing from Yan De Bruyn and the playing of the band is never bettered than on this quality number. "Lick or Split" clocks in at just under eight minutes long and it still seems to short, this is defiantly my favorite track on this wonderful thirteen track album.
Inside the booklet there a real nice picture of the B.B. King touring band from the early Fifties showing Calvin as young handsome man. The album is released on Calvin own label "Sawdust Alley," named after the area in Houston that Calvin grew up.
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