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Kay Kay And The Rays - The Best Of Kay Kay And The Rays

Catfood Records

15 tracks; 64:15

Kay Kay and the Rays formed around the Abner Burnett Blues Band in 1997 when Abner was looking for a lead singer. El Paso, Texas native Kay Kay Greenwade joined the band which eventually changed its name to Kay Kay and the Rays. Standing over six feet tall, Kay Kay cut an imposing figure and her voice was bigger than Texas. Together, the band made three albums for Catfood Records before Kay Kay suffered a stroke and was possibly permanently sidelined. The Best Of Kay Kay And The Rays from Catfood Records brings together tracks from Kay Kay And The Rays Featuring Abner Burnett, Texas Justice, and Big Bad Girl.

Label mate Johnny Rawls produced Texas Justice and he plays on four tracks included in this compilation including the lead off tune “Lone Star Justice.” Kay Kay’s incisive lyrics about the penal system in Texas and its detrimental disposition toward minorities and the poor immediately signal her interest in social injustice. She does raise an interesting point about all the money poured into jails instead of schools, and punctuating her incensed statements are equally fiery guitar licks. Elsewhere Kay Kay takes lyrical jabs at the insidious nature of corporate America in the brass-driven “Enron Field.” The song’s upbeat, funky rhythm is antithetical to the message which seems symbolic of the way some companies rob you blind while making you feel good about it.

Kay Kay takes on the broken promises and soul-sucking nature of Los Angeles in “Lord Save Me From L.A.” and the stupidity of expecting a man not to cheat on you if he was cheating with you in “Cheater.” Kay Kay does not write run-of-the-mill lyrics, but occasionally the music seems a bit to polished, almost like its being presented for mass consumption. The band lacks a distinct signature sound apart from Greenwade’s voice. That’s not to say the band is bad or always bland. They are tight and seem to light up most on the Texas-style tracks like “No Mama’s Boys,” a strutting Texas shuffle with stinging guitar licks and a “Cold Shot-style” rhythm. “Big Bad Girl” has a stop start structure with biting guitar interjected throughout also pointing to an SRV/Albert King influence and they even burn through a raving version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Crossfire” complete with stunning streams of Strat Magick that would make SRV proud.

Fellow Texan Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones turns up on “Hey Big Boy” providing some of his fine guitar work and Johnny Rawls shares the vocal spotlight on his originals “Hold On To What You Got” and “Love Me Baby” and Rawls has co-writing credit on “Texas Justice – Billy’s Story” with bassist Bob Trenchard who is one of only three musicians featured on every track. Some of Rawls’ songs are like syrupy easy listening blues and are perhaps the blandest of the tracks found on this collection. Bob Trenchard is the primary songwriter with Kay Kay and was a mainstay of the original Abner Burnett Blues Band. Abner himself left in 2000.

I’ve often thought “Best Of” albums often present the least interesting music an artist has made since it is intended to have widespread appeal. Some of us are always on the look-out for music found on the path less traveled and most of the music on this collection has been heard before in one form or another. The saving grace is Kay Kay’s voice and her astute lyrics which overcome rote arrangements and non-descript guitar tones. However, The Trenchard/Greenwade duo has crafted some top notch songs and there is enough interesting material on The Best Of Kay Kay And The Rays to warrant checking out their other albums.

Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit

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