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Curtis Salgado - Clean Getaway

Shanachie Records

Four-category 2009 Blues Music Award nominee Curtis Salgado lets it all hang out on Clean Getaway with 12 cuts of masterful soul, R&B and rock, all with a touch of the blues. Clean Getaway is a masterful effort that readily evokes the classic work from late1960s-early 1970s labels such as Stax, Hi and Atlantic, along with the classic male singers from those labels Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Al Green. A demonstration that soul is alive and well indeed, not ready either for the scrap heap or the museum display case.

The 12 songs on Clean Getaway are all very good songs, with none of them the familiar chestnuts we all heard then on Top 40 radio. The only song that might be taken as an obvious cover would be track 10, Al Green’s “Let’s Get Married;” but here as elsewhere, while Salgado’s vocals may evoke memories of Green, or on other tracks, Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett, they only evoke, don’t copy, thus making Curtis Salgado sound throughout just like—well, Curtis Salgado!

Plus, there’s a lot of variety in the song types, styles and delivery. While much of the CD might be called straight-ahead classic soul, track 5, “What’s Up With That,” is in a traditional B.B. King mode, with driving horns and solid King-like guitar work from Johnny Lee Schell. Another song evoking this particular King of the Blues (for there were two others as well, Albert and Freddie), track 8, “20 Years Of B.B. King,” builds around the melody and guitar work of “The Thrill Is Gone” with reference in the lyrics to several of King’s familiar works to limn a classic blues of betrayal. This particular song was nominated for Song of the Year at the Blues Music Awards this past May. One of my favorites, track 3, “Who’s Lovin’You,” is a stream-of-consciousness portrait in pure emotion, much like Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” or James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please.” But track 9, “Heartache,” is piano driven New Orleans R&B, with the delightful augmentation of Julie Delgado’s emphatic soulful cries, while track 7, “I Don’t Want To Discuss It” and the final track, the Eric Clapton/Bonnie and Delaney-penned “Bottle Of Red Wine,” are rock ‘n’ roll. And while love and its vicissitudes are at the top of the themes addressed, the opening cut, “Clean Getaway,” tells instead of chucking it all and making that “clean getaway” into an anonymity free from one’s troubles.

Musicianship is solid, built around the seminal studio Phantom Blues Band at its core, with several guest musicians, background singers, and the multi-tracked sax of Joe Sublett and trumpet of Les Lovitt providing a solid horn section on five cuts. Salgado adds harp complement to his vocals on four tracks, playing bluesy around the melody line on track 2, “Both Sorry Over Nothin’;” track 4, “My Confession;” track 6, “Alone;” and more traditional blues harp solos on “Bottle Of Red Wine.”

As Indianapolis bluesman Governor Davis keeps reminding us locally, while blues did have one baby and they called it rock ‘n’ roll, blues also had another, and they called it soul. Curtis Salgado’s effort on Clean Getaway recalls the work of Little Milton and Z.Z. Hill, who could not only move naturally and effortlessly from blues to soul, but always put some of that blues with a feeling into their soul work as well. Summing up Clean Getaway—fresh, sparkling wine from those old bottles of the soul tradition that just tastes good again and again!

Reviewer George Fish lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr, and writes a regular music column, “Blues and More” for the online Bloomington (IN) Alternative. He’s also published in the regional Indiana blues and alternative presses as well as Living Blues and Blues Access, and wrote the notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has also published on blues and pop music for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy, as well as the online Political Affairs and MRZine.

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