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Bob Jones & The Drive - Michael and Me

Self Release

15 songs; 63 minutes

Styles: Mellow Blues, Folk, Electric Guitar Blues

Sometimes, a tribute album is like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it introduces (or reintroduces) listeners to noteworthy artists and their music, especially blues. On the other hand, they might make some wonder what the original songs sound like, and if the original musicians had performed them with more panache. In the case of “Michael and Me,” released by Bob Jones and the Drive, both of these suppositions are likely true.

It's a collection of memorable melodies and less-artful offerings thatindividually, one can take or leave. Certain arrangements, such as Roy Brown's “Lollipop Mama” and Mike Bloomfield/Lillian Green's “Knocking Myself Out,” will make one stand and sing or dance along! Others, like Otis Redding's “Cigarettes and Coffee,” are subtly muted here, lacking verve and unwittingly lulling fans. The album's crudest entrees, “Blue Movies,” “Do Me,” and “Women Loving Each Other,” sear the ear like overly-cooked Cajun dishes. These are highlights and low-lights, of course, but the overall impression this CD leaves is one of mellow satisfaction, remembering an old friend and a job well done.

A true veteran, Jones can be quite witty when he describes his various tunes. For instance, on his website, he deems “Knocking Myself Out” as “Mike's ode to his love of consciousness alteration.” “Raising Cane” at his uncle's plantation, he says wryly, “was supposed to cure my 'discipline problem'”! Every rendition on “Michael and Me” has a back-story, so check them all out. “I played and sang with Mike Bloomfield during the '70s as part of Mike Bloomfield and Friends,” Bob Jones states in the liner notes. “This album is a tribute to him and the music we played together.”

By no means is this band the first with whom Jones has performed. According to the bio on his website, his ensembles have included Fred McDowell, Otis Rush, Nick Gravenites, Harvey Mandel, Bunny Sigler, and Voodoo Suns. My 60 year old Dad remembers a hit song from 1965, “You Were on My Mind” by the band “We Five” that featured a young Bob Jones on guitars and backup vocals. Jones's career is now spanning four decades (the 1970's through 2011), and it continues through releases like this one. Born in Hawaii, he now lives in Maui and DJ's on the Mana'o Radio Show, every Wednesday night from 2-5:00 PM on 91.5 FM.

Even though some of his selections may be too low-key for die-hard blues fans, Jones is never one to let the songs within him, and other artists that he knew, fade away.

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 31-year-old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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