Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

ROOMFUL OF BLUES

45 LIVE

2013-10-12

The biggest, baddest blues band in the land is back with a live recording to commemorate its 45 years as one of the top purveyors of the little big band sound of the likes of early

B.B. King

and the

Buddy Johnson Orchestra

. While it has had more turnover in membership than the French fry slot at McDonald's on a soccer Saturday, (over 50 to date including the likes of

Duke Robillard, Lou Ann Barton, Curtis Salgado, Sugar Ray Norcia, Ron Levy, Al Basile, Bob Enos, Al Copley, Porky Cohen and Ronnie Earl

) the band has always recruited great talent and maintained its wailing, horn-driven sound despite the tough economics of putting eight or more musicians on stage each night. This set features the current version of the band working its way through 14 cuts selected from throughout its career including such gems as

Big Bill Broonzy's Somebody's Got to Go

which it often performed with

Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson

,

Crawdad Hole

which it recorded originally with

Big Joe Turner

and

It All Went Down the Drain

which it recorded with

Earl King

. As great as these tunes are the band shines brightest on originals such as

Dressed Up to To Get Messed Up,

guitarist and band leader

Chris Vachon'sJust Keep Rockin'

and

Turn It On, Turn It Up

as well as longest serving member

Rich Latille's

horn driven instrumental tour de force

Straight Jacquet.

The band also breathes surprising new life into the Hank William chestnut

Jambalaya

with

Lataille

leading the way on clarinet. While renowned for its sparkling horn section, which provides both background spice and attention grabbing solos, the band has always also had top notch guitarists starting with founding member

Duke Robillard

. Current guitarist

Chris Vachon

continues that tradition with his incendiary soloing on

Magic Sam'sEasy Baby

and his own

Blue Blue World.

While the vocalist slot probably has the largest alumni club,

Phil Pemberton

acquits himself extraordinarily well on this recording with his big lunged vocals that provide a perfect foil for the swinging groove of the horns. This is a top notch release that every lover of classicR & B and blues should own. SMITTY 

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.