Best Of The Batch: Michael Barclay
Blue Eyed Blues
Artist: Michael Barclay
Title: Blue Eyed Blues
Label: Chatterbox Records
Michael Barclaybrings his Blue Eyed Blues to the table this year. He plays some mean guitar licks and sounds like the prototypical bluesman, and at times he is so expressive and heavy he sounds like the old, black blues players.
Barclay offers up 16 solid tracks of spicy and red-hot blues-rock, the kind that starts a fire that never goes out. I mean this does not let up for second on the entire recording.
The album has a great kickoff song that typifies the blues: “Give It To Me Straight” sings the blues about a lover gone astray. Then “A Diary of the Blues (All the Prayin' in the World)” is another sad but funny rocker, as the man singing, who happens to be Barclay (this is autobiographical by the way), laments about his wife divorcing him and his girlfriend leaving town. Sounds like the blues came pouring down on him in this instance because of his own doing, but there is always a guitar to pick up and a saloon around the corner to make it all go away, yes sir this is da blues.
“Stinky” and “NY Blues” are great instrumental tracks that give you an opportunity to appreciate the well-honed chops of everyone in the band, not to take away their equal expertise on the vocal tracks of course. “NY Blues,” which features Barclay playing all the instruments on the track, is a slow cooker, with some funky up front bass and stinging guitar licks; it is surely one of the best cuts on the album, but far too short-lived. There is something special about an all-instrumental number; it allows you to focus in on the music without having to think about anything else. These are just a few highlights of a CD jam-packed with them.
Barclay’s guitar dominates this album, along with his vocals, organ, horns, and electric piano playing; however, I must tip my hat to the rest of the contributors on this outstanding album, which is quite a cast of characters, giving the entire project heaps of diversity and depth. Notably, the addition of an amazing horn section consisting of Roger Volz, Al Garth, Dale Gutridge, and of course Barclay, that adds some meat and potatoes to the mix.
Barclay has been around the block and back and his resume speaks very highly of his previous work. He learned production in the Electric Lady Land Studio right alongside the legendary Eddie Kramer, and has played with the likes Norton Buffalo, Nick Gravenites, and Merle Saunders, to name a few of the long list of well known artists. This man is a blues veteran through and through and Blue Eyed Blues is a true test of his blues pedigree.
Michael Barclay: guitar, vocals, organ, horns, electric piano
Joel Rudinow: piano
Kent Fossgreen: bass
Kendrick Freeman: drums
Roger Volz: sax, banana, organ, electric piano, guitar
Special Guests include:
Ozzie Ahlers, John Allair, Jack Jacobsen: keys
Al Garth, Dale Gutridge, Tim Haggerty, Kevin Powers: horn section
Levi Lloyd singing Desperate Man
Rachelle Byrne,Dorian Hartley: background vocals
Rick Cutler, Aaron Haggerty: drums
Banana-organ and rhythm guitar
01. Give it to me Straight
02. Drown in My own Tears
03. Mama's Cadillac
04. Desperate Man
06. A Diary of the Blues (All the Prayin' in the World)
07. Maintenance Man
08. Old Love
10. My Pretty Angel
11. Shake it Loose
12. Nylons and Heels
13. Just Can't Quit the Blues
14. The Shoe is on the Other Foot
15. NY Blues
16. Who's Stalkin' Who?
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