Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings - Blues Evolution
Tai Jeria Record Company
15 songs; 70:37 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Contemporary Blues, Soul-blues, Funk
Fun is contagious. When it is obvious that the artist is having fun, the listener is more likely to have a good time, too. I know of no artist who has more fun performing his songs than Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings. His witty sense of humor is a big part of the party. Across “Big Daddy’s” 15 original songs, one hears phrases like: “Lightning struck my outhouse,” “Sorry, but a lot of you little girls need to be spanked,” and I think your wife “is cheating on us.”
Exuberance comes across best in a live performance, and although this is a studio production, Stallings presents it as though it is live. Before the full band tears into the ripping instrumental, “Let’s Boogie,” the first words heard are, “Ladies and gentlemen...thank you for patronizing my CD. We’re gonna do somethin’ good for ya. We're gonna be bumpin’ some blues at ya. We’re goin’ on a blues ride. Fasten your seatbelt.”
Immediately, we are introduced to real-deal 12 bar blues in the next track, “Going Down South” with some interesting and humorous lyrics about “kissing in the mouth.”
Scaring the bejeebers out of folks listening to the CD in their car is the train whistle and warning bell sounds opening track 4, “Blues Train Express.” This track is so good, it was the first I played on my blues radio show.
Another headed for airplay is “Hard Times/Good Times,” a traditional sounding “woke up this morning” 12 bar blues. It's the classic Chicago Blues line up with piano and harp in the mix, and it demonstrates that, among his various styles, Stallings’ blues are deeply embedded.
My favorite is a slow to mid-tempo blues, “Strange Things” with its classic tale of back doors slamming as the protagonist comes home through the front door. He sings, “I had a talk with my best friend. The old lady done cut me off...my best friend told me, ‘I got something to tell you; your old lady done cut me off too!’....I think your old lady is cheating on us.” Now, tell me that’s not “strange.”
Ever heard of “blues line dancing”? Yep, it is happening, and Stallings encourages it in a fine Stax/Volt, Memphis Soul horns, James Brown sounding invitation to the dance floor. “All right y’all, stay in line!” “Booty Slapping” may sound socially incorrect at first, but it is just another fun dance song with some rump spanking, ride-that-pony moves.
Fun in the future? Oh yeah, “2999” features helium voiced Martians saying, “Hey Earth boy, did you bring me some blues? NO!...Mars to Earth; Houston, we got a problem. Don’t send nobody up here that ain’t got no blues! Send me some...Jimmy Reed...or you gonna feel the heat and start to burn...from my space gun!”
“Cha Cha 3000” is a complex instrumental that truly reveals Stallings’ genius at arranging strings and bringing harmonica and piano together in the mix. The song floats in the air like smoke rising from a fire on a mildly windy day. The smoke (and song) takes turns shooting straight up, easing sideways, and grooving along in a fashion popularized by the band War’s best harp laced numbers.
Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings handles all guitar (except one), vocals, producing, and arrangements. Bill Pratt plays keyboards, organ, strings, guitar on one and drums on another, and adds background vocals. Ron Jenkins and Tommy Gunn add drums with Glenn Workman on piano and organ, Ronald Bland on bass and a guitar solo, Gail Parrish on bass; Joe “E Flat” Thomas on sax; Kelvin O’Neal on trumpet and background vocals. Additionally, The Nighthawks’ Mark Wenner, Rich Sampson, and Steve Levine add harp while Sterling Patterson adds a guitar solo, Joe Thomas, Aleyshia Stallings and Quesse Stallings add background vocals and Deborah Brown and Milvia Brunel are the “female voices.”
This album demands more attention and begs for Stallings to blow out of his Baltimore digs to share all that fun nationwide.
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL