Scott Ellison - Ice Storm
12 songs; 46:18 minutes; Splendid
Style: Electric guitar driven, full band, Blues-Rock productions
Scott Ellison is living on “Tulsa Time.” He’s gonna keep his watch set to it, because you know that he’s been through it, he’s livin’ on Tulsa Time. That song was written by Danny Flowers, but both Ellison’s album and life story conjure up memories of Eric Clapton’s version dedicated to Eric’s friends from Tusla OK.
Born around 1955, Scott is from Tulsa which was a hot bed of musical talent in the 1970s. Eric Clapton and Freddie King's bands were both based in Tulsa as was Leon Russell's Shelter Records. Influenced and electrified by the British Invasion bands, moved by Motown, and touched by the Soul coming out of Memphis, it wasn't long before Scott started his own band.
In 1977 he began touring with Jessica James (Conway Twitty's daughter), and by 1981 Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown had Scott in his band playing rhythm. A move to LA in the mid 80s found Scott with The Box Tops, The Shirelles, J.J. Jackson, The Drifters, The Coasters, and Gary "U.S." Bonds. By the 90s Scott had formed his own Blues Band and opened up shows for such legends as Joe Cocker, Roy Orbison, The Fabulous T-Birds, Leon Russell, Bobby Bland, and Buddy Guy.
Throughout his career Scott has been prolific songwriter and has composed and released numerous CDs. Scott continues to tour the US and Canada, and most recently he opened for B.B. King at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Displaying his string picking, slide guitar work, and rough-edged vocals, “Ice Storm” is a major label release of his best works since 1997. Only tracks 6, 9, and 10 were recorded as recently as 2006-07. Plenty of effort has gone into the production as no less than 29 different artists contributed, whew!
Fans of Eric Clapton’s blues-rock during his Tulsa days will relate to the overall sounds, especially the wah-wah found in “Who Will Be The Fool” and “Keys to My Heart,” which opens acoustically with high pitched slide quickly underpinning. The solo vocal is soon joined by a chorus of background singers.
Radio-ready, and the first that I played on WKCC, is the opening track “Steamin.’” When Scott sings “steamin’” as two syllables, the organ perfectly matches his vocal key for a dynamic man/machine harmony. This up tempo shuffle is a winner.
“Big Blue Car,” the second track, is another full-production number with a comfortable, if familiar, feel - not a raw or rough edge anywhere. “King of the Blues” with its popping rhythm also features some nice burning guitar solos. “Cadillac Woman,” as the name implies, is made for playing loud and driving fast – you know, pass cars - take chances!
“Why’d You Lie To Me?” is made for slide guitar fans. Ellison propels the number from slash and burn into the stratosphere, then throws in a surprise ending. The cooking Albert Collins-esque instrumental title track adds horns to the mix. It is called “Ice Storm,” but it’s hot!
While the full production numbers often break no new ground, Scott’s guitar and vocals intrigue me enough to want to see him perform live. According to his Myspace site, he performs gigs as a trio backed only by bass and drums. A stripped down set like that would be welcome any-time, not just on Tulsa time
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL