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LA Blues Alliance - What A Life

Babyree Records
Run Time: 63:48

The LA Blues Alliance is quite a cast of characters. Most of them you’ve probably heard but you didn’t know their names. Some of them are stellar all stars in the blues realm. Holding it all together is the legendary television score producer Mike Post. I bet you’re wondering how this makes a blues album.

Held down with some of the best blue-eyed soul vocals and Hammond B-3 work you’ll ever hear, Mike Finnigan (The Serfs, Dave Mason, Crosby Stills & Nash, Jimi Hendrix) opens up the album with his self-penned title track full of blue-eyed soul rock of years gone by. Sonny Landreth adds some great slide work while the legendary Stanley Behrens (Canned Heat) takes up the harp chair.

Covers are the spotlight of the album. “TV Mama” featuring the laid back baritone of Keb Mo hearkens to any smoke filled LA Blues Club of days gone by, again with some great punctuation from Finnigan on the organ. Amy Keys (studio & backup vocals for Phil Collins, Michael Bolton, and Joe Cocker) belts out the Stevie Wonder “Maybe Your Baby” with Behrens grabbing at you with his harp work on this track.

Finnigan and Keys also provide one of the coolest covers I’ve heard in a long time with the gospel blues of Johnny Cash’s legendary “I Walk the Line.” Finnigan calms down the blue-eyed soul and gives us some old school blues on the oft-covered “Death Letter” with Keb Mo accompanying on mandolin on the all acoustic track. The other acoustic disc gives us a blues-induced version of Mo and Keys (playing the part of Momma) on Smokey Robinson’s “Shop Around.” Behrens troubling vocals on the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Who’s Been Talking” is easily forgotten by his outstanding harp work on the track.

There are a few holes in this album, which is bound to happen when you get folks together who are predominantly rock and pop players, even Landreth’s playing borders on blues-rock most of the time. However, this is a feel good album with enough highlights and gems, especially in the covers that will make any blues fan proud to listen. Keys’ sultry jazz-inflected soul voice that either in the forefront or in the back ground along with Keb Mo’s rootsy acoustic slide playing help to anchor the disc in the blues. Not to be left out, Mike Finnigan’s raspy blue-eyed soul is also a pleaser to the ears and his B3 work is second to none these days. If you’re a fan of most of these folks past works, this environment with the high level of talent in the disc will surely interest you. CD is available from all major record outlets.

Reviewer Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

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