Davis and the Superband
Live at Yorckschlosschent
Review by Rob Paullin
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union, doors
opened across central and eastern Europe for western ideas, freedoms, attitudes,
culture--and music. One who ran west to east through that door was American
bluesman EB Davis, a Helena, Arkansas, native who learned and honed his craft on
Memphis’ Beale Street before making the permanent move to Berlin.
While Davis remains on the other side of the Atlantic, his music is now finding
a second home, in the land of his first home—America. His latest import (or
export, depending on how you look at it) is 70 minutes of solid honky tonk
blues, recorded live at the Yorckschlosschen, Berlin’s premier jazz and blues
showcase venue located in the German capitol’s Mont-Martre art district. The
disk even feels like a live EB Davis show, complete with audience repartee.
Davis opens with “Mary Ann,” taking this relatively obscure Ray Charles album
cut and turning it into his own. He follows with “Drivin’ Wheel,” a driving
non-stop blues powerhouse, complete with a German-accented audience sing-along!
Next he introduces us to the first of four original tunes with “Howling.” This
one features the stinging guitar work of his German band mate Juergen Baily.
While the song seems a bit repetitive, I should note I was at a disadvantage: I
was not there at the Yorckschlosschen with one arm around a girl and the other
around a beer, when “Howling” was howled out….
Davis slows things down with another original cut, “Bluesman Sings the Blues.”
This one is pure deep south soul, reflecting his upbringing along the banks of
the Mississippi River south of Memphis.
He then puts his musical diversity on display with “Poor Man’s Blues,” which
borrows heavily from the Harlem swing era. That song serves as a nice set-up for
another Davis original, “Buttermilk Bottom,” which features the driving up-front
keyboard stylings of band—and soul--mate Nina T. Davis.
Next up is the lively Davis original, “I Wanna Talk About You,” an ode to the
excitement of love gone right. While this one is not really pure blues, either
in performance or feel, it does help divide the disk nicely, as it probably did
the performance for the live audience. He chases this one with the highly
danceable Otis Redding funk cut, “Hard to Handle,” which give way to the blues
power ballad, “Creeping Under My Skin.” This one will remind you of B.B. King,
complete with the soulful trumpeteering of Don Marriot.
In “Temporary Lovin’” Davis makes the case against one night stands before
sending his live audience home—or perhaps to the after hours clubs—with “Georgia
On My Mind.” It’s not exactly Ray Charles, but with the saxophone artistry of
Willie Pollack, it’s not a bad way to finish up.
Since I don’t have either girl or beer, that leaves both hands free to give EB
Davis’s “Live at Yorckschlosschen” two thumbs up!
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