….this is going to be on the upcoming Blues in Britain issue.
Thanks to Mr. Phil Wight
AL BROWN BAND: Live At Cantine
Azzurra Music TRI 1307 (53:00)
Is It True/ Early In The Morning/ Glamour Girl/ Times
Getting Tougher Than Tough/ I’m Still In Love With You/
Side Tracked/ Checking On My Baby/ It’s Raining In My
Heart (Hey Little Lee)
This is the sophomore release by the hugely talented Glasgow-based guitarist (and he’s not a bad singer either!) Al Brown.
This is a live recording, cut in Italy at Cantine de l’Arena in Verona. Support is regular bass player Alan Thomson plus a brace of very good local lads – Franz Bazzani on keys, and Cesare Valbusa on drums. It’s an eight-track set, and all numbers are covers.
The set opens with the Dave Bartholomew/Pearl King number ‘Is It True’, taken at a slightly faster tempo than The Spiders original, Brown delivers a tight, swinging version, with some nifty organ from Bazzani, and a very tasty solo from the man himself on guitar. Next up, he revisits (it is on his debut release ‘Scufflin’’ – reviewed in B&R 313) the old Louis Jordan number ‘Early In The Morning’ (Hickman/Jordan/Bartley comps.), Brown retains a subtle Latin tinge while dispensing with the overtly Cubano tinges of Jordan’s original. Very nice version!
There is a brace of T-Bone Walker numbers – ‘Glamour Girl’ (stretched out to a big ten minutes) and ‘I’m Still In Love With You’, Brown has obviously studied the master long and hard, but is no mere clone always adding that little touch of individual piquancy. ‘Side Tracked’ is a hard-charging run through Freddie King’s original. Every time I hear a version of one of the Big Man’s instrumentals I always mentally compare it to King himself, however Brown does not let the side down though, rendering a tasteful interpretation of this instrumental classic.
The final number is Slim Harpo’s ‘It’s Raining In My Heart’ (to be strictly accurate ‘Rainin’ In My Heart’) and is something of a mystery. My CD player lists it at 11:39, however it only lasts about 6:18, however if you leave it running, after about three minutes of silence a track fades in which lo and behold is ‘Hey Little Lee’ (which explains the appendage in the track listing), it fades out after about two minutes. However, if you switch off your CD player at the end of ‘Rainin’’ you would never know it was there! Odd! Anyway, Brown’s interpretation of ‘Rainin’’ is more country than swamp, nothing wrong with that though.
I was very impressed with his ‘Scufflin’’ release and this set is just as good. Try www.azzurramusic.it if you would like a copy, or, if you can, you can visit Al’s Facebook page (just search for Al Brown) and I assume he could point you in the right direction to obtain a copy.
Recommended by this reviewer. Tell him B&R sent you!