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On their follow up to the terrific debut, "Master of the Game", singer Jackie Payne and guitarist Steve Edmonson together with the Sweet Meat Horns and a cast of guests including Jeff Turmes on sax and Mitch Kashmar on harmonica lay down thirteen tracks of Soul, R & B and blues. The title track kicks things off in fine fashion with Payne’s autobiographical tour through the blues. The amazing list of artists that Payne has accompanied foreshadows the diversity of vocal styles he brings to the party and the driving horns set an up-tempo pace that set the stage for the rest of the disc. "Can I Hit It Again" sounds like a marriage between the swinging funk of Tower of Power and the hot-wired shrieks of James Brown. On the Gene Barge classic, "Mother-in-law Blues", Payne delivers the blues in a frantic voice that recalls Buddy Guy but soon morphs into the Reverend Al Green on "Take a Chance on Me" where his thoughts are decidedly more secular than the godly. That theme continues on "Uptown Woman", "Downtown Man" and "Midnight Friend" which find Payne on the prowl looking for a bit of nocturnal companionship. "I Got a Mind to go to Chicago" and "No Money, No Honey" are straight forward blues with Kashmar’s harmonica laying on thick doses of Southside grease to accompany Edmonson’s stinging guitar. Deep soul makes an appearance on Isaac Hayes’ "Your Good Thing (Is About to Come to an End)" which finds Payne testifying about heartache with enough conviction that you know these aren’t just lyrics for him. He’s walked the walk as evidenced by "Bag Full of Doorknobs" where he recounts how his mate changes the locks every time he leaves. "She’s Looking Good/I’ve Never Found A Girl(Medley)" is a “wedding reception” cut with bits and pieces of several tunes. Overall, a solid disc of smokin’ soul blues. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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