If there's a new blues club opening up in Tulsa, Okla., chances are Ellison's booked to play there sometime within the first four weeks of operation.
A longtime presence on the tough and local blues scene, Ellison has just released his latest CD, which is filled with R&B, rock, a little pop and, of course, a healthy dose of the blues.
"Steamin'" gets things nicely started with a rockin' groove and a couple of decent solos emulating from Ellison's fingers and rosewood fretboard. "Big Blue Car" finds Ellison complimenting the fine Hammond B3 organ playing of Tom Canning and the syncopated horn section, which is provided by the Vine St. Horns with arrangements written by Billy Bickelhaupt.
By the third and fourth track listeners will become aware that much of Ellison's guitar playing is in the call-and-response mode of playing. Meaning he sings then answers with a fill or two then back to the vocals, then another fill, etc. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just repetitive. And the pop sounding "You Lit the Fire" seems out of place on a blues CD, although some fine Hammond B3 playing is provided by William "Smitty" Smith.
The cut "4th of July" totally conjures up the spirit of America's adoption of the Declaration of Independence and finds Preston Smith joining the session on harmonica. The CD's only cover is a take on the Norman Petty/C. Hardin and Grateful Dead concert staple, "Not Fade Away," which finds Ellison breaking out the coricidin medicine bottle to screech a little slide guitar.
JSE Records, 913 S. New Haven Ave., Tulsa, Okla. 74112
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.