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The Jeff Golub Band Featuring Henry Butler - The Three Kings
Entertainment One Music
Jeff Golub’s name is not too familiar to the blues community at large. Having carved out a comfortable living playing alongside artists Rod Stewart and Billy Squier has been the springboard in helping this musician embark on a solo career full of its many twists and turns. Now the guitarist wants to prove himself as a blues player honoring the tradition at large.
The move is a bold one as featured on the release The Three Kings. And though the wild cards of Albert, Freddy and B.B. have been played enough on tribute albums in the past, Golub is still successful at infusing something fresh into the mix.
Piano maestro Henry Butler appears with Golub’s band. And due to his presence, the songs tend to take on the theme of Jazz Fest, partying on until the wee hours of the morning.
What better way to begin the party than with “Let The Good Times Roll.” Golub is the perfect student of following the philosophy of less-is-more with perfectly executed notes and never overplaying to validate his credentials.
Two original tracks show written from Jeff and other members of his band. If the flavor of the tune “In Plain Sight” tastes of New Orleans it’s not entirely surprising. Not only is Henry Butler doing his best Professor Longhair interpretations but guest guitarist Sonny Landreth makes an appearance adding his snaky slide guitar lines.
Though Butler sings a majority of the tracks, drummer Josh Dion is more than adequate at taking over the vocal duties for a few select tracks like B.B. King’s “Help The Poor.”
Golub kept the lists of guests down to a minimum. As a bandleader he was able to pull this project off without having to utilize too many big names for personal advertisement. Although it can’t be denied that guest guitarist Robben Ford is a blessing to have on the Freddie King instrumental “Sidetracked” in which he trades licks with Golub that are tasteful and not turning into some guitar shootout that tends to characterize guitar dominant tunes.
Truthfully Jeff doesn’t need any guests to assist in fleshing the songs out. His guitar work is solid enough without the flash and bombast that seep into other player’s chops.
Unlike his former employers, Golub isn’t one to hog the spotlight to show off. He has no problems in letting Butler come to the forefront. One listen to Henry’s solo “In Plain Sight” demonstrates why he is regarded as one of the great piano playing bluesmen.
The weaknesses in a package like this are not the band’s playing but the choice of material. Serious blues aficionados probably have heard enough versions of “The Thrill Is Gone” and “I’m Torn Down” to last a lifetime. Wisely Golub captured these songs in very few takes so the effect is not too generic. With a terrific horn and rhythm section, the songs are spiked up with enough gusto. Dion’s powerhouse drumming locking in with Andy Hess’ basslines lights fire under Golub’s fretwork which smolders in “Oh Pretty Woman.” And Jeff really gathers steam in “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” with the rest of the band roaring behind him. His playing can sweeten up in the misty “Freddie’s Midnight Dream.”
Though he rocked and rolled with the classic icons of the past, Jeff Golub seems to realize that the blues canon works best for his own musical identity. This is a band of musicians he can take on the road and would have no problems in finding an audience who would enjoy nothing more than dieting on a live night of blues played well. Golub is more than up for the challenge.!
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.