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Earl Green & The Right Time – Live At Brönte Blues Club

Self Release 2011

12 tracks; 70.58 minutes

Earl Green is best known from his time as vocalist for Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes and as a stalwart of the blues scene in London. However, for a singer of Earl’s class he has not been widely recorded over the years, so this release is very welcome. The Right Time has been Earl’s main outlet for some years now and the band is a well-established team. I have had the pleasure of seeing them a number of times at clubs and festivals and always hoped that they would release a CD of their performances, so a CD recorded live is perfect. The band consists of Earl on vocals, Les Back and Ron Warshow on guitars, Mike Paice on sax and harp, Emil Engström on bass and Daniel Strittmatter on drums.

The Brönte Blues Club is a small venue in a village hall in deepest Yorkshire, Northern England. They clearly did a terrific job in enabling this recording: the sound is crystal clear and the audience enthusiastic, but respectfully silent during the songs, leaving their applause and shouts of encouragement for the appropriate moments between songs. I imagine that the band played for longer than the 12 tunes on the CD but at a running time well over the hour the CD represents good value.

The material comes from a wide variety of sources, mainly the greats of the blues, both ‘classic’ and contemporary, so we get T Bone Walker, Bobby Bland and Elmore James as well as Duke Robillard and Rick Estrin in the set. The CD is well sequenced, with plenty of variety in mood and pace: for instance, opener “T Bone Shuffle” is followed by the soulful Little Milton tune “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” (recently covered by Janiva Magness) and then Percy Mayfield’s “Danger Zone”, a slow ballad on which everyone shines, Earl’s vocal outstanding and all three front line players taking superb solos.

After that initial trio of tunes Les Back switches to slide for “Done Somebody Wrong”, the stop/start rhythm being assisted by Mike Paice’s harp. Probably best known from the Allman Brothers’ version on “Live at Fillmore East”, this is also an excellent rendition. “That’s Better For Me” was a tune I did not know, the shortest track on the CD and something of a jump blues tune. However, the next one was certainly more familiar, a stunning version of “Ask Me About Nothin’ But The Blues”, written by Deadric Malone and Henry Boozier, but best known for Bobby Bland’s version. I have to say that Earl’s vocal here is outstanding and you could hear a pin drop as he expresses the anguish and pain of the man who has lost his love. The tune is an extended version, so we also get a sax feature from Mike Paice who seems to have caught the tone of despair from the lyrics.

After all that angst the band sensibly opts to lighten the mood with Roscoe Gordon’s “No More Doggin’”. That familiar loping rhythm carries us along with Mike Paice’s harp supporting and both guitarists cutting loose, Les Back again on slide. Keeping up the pace the band brings us “I Don’t Believe”, written by Don Robey and Manuel Charles, another one from the Bobby Bland songbook but also covered more recently by Joe Bonamassa. Mike Paice is back on sax and Ron Warshow’s guitar underpins the vocal lines very well. “It’s My Own Fault” is credited to John Lee Hooker on the CD but although JLH did do a song by that name, the version here is far closer to the BB King song, not least in the lovely plucked guitar solo in the middle of the song.

Moving to some more recent material, the band tackles Rick Estrin’s “Living Hand To Mouth”, a jaunty tune featuring Mike Paice’s harp and some tasty guitar. Duke Robillard’s “Anything It Takes” is a swinging number with more impressive sax, as well as a ringing solo by Les Back who really swings here. Closing the CD is an extended version of Deadric Malone’s “Don’t Cry No More”, another Bobby Bland song which has teases of Gershwin’s “Summertime” and Wilson Pickett’s “Land Of A Thousand Dances” woven into the song. A storming sax solo graces the middle section.

Summary: this is a CD that everyone who was there will want as a souvenir of a great night at the Brönte Blues Club. However, in my view it is a must have disc for all lovers of great blues music – highly recommended.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and is currently planning his trip to the Blues Blast Awards in October.

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