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Sweet Claudette & Friends - That Man’s Got To Go

No Cover Productions

10 tracks time: 60:57

Sweet Claudette, “Detroit Matriarch of the Blues,” is a sultry, deep-voiced singer and original songwriter who’s played extensively in the Detroit area and in Canada. She was the 2007 Detroit Blues Society Competition Finalist for the International Blues Challenge, and has twice been nominated for a Detroit Music Award. That Man’s Got to Go, her fifth CD, features nine of her original songs plus her long take on Albert King’s rendition of the blues standard, “Aint Nobody’s Bizness.” This CD is solidly in the gutbucket groove that characterizes Detroit blues—polished, yet with a sense of the raw. Detroit, with its large African American population, has a strong history of blues, jazz, soul, rock, and of course, was the home base for Motown Records. It’s where John Lee Hooker started, was home for Rice Miller in the 1950s, has produced black artists from Eddie Kirkland to Wilson Pickett, Mary Wells to Aretha Franklin, and it is on this solid legacy that Sweet Claudette now builds—and builds well.

The band here consists of the rhythm section of Greg Manning, drums, Todd McIntosh, bass, and Dan Dekuyper, rhythm guitar; horn section of Marty Montgomery, sax, and Alonzo “Big Al” Haralson, trumpet and flugelhorn; and Howard Glazer, lead guitar, with Claudette on lead vocals. Montgomery and Haralson are outstanding on both solos and tandem playing, their playing combining blues with atonal modern jazz. Glazer, one of the Detroit area’s top guitarists, also records nationally with his band, the EL 34s, for Random Chance Records. His guitar playing is sophisticated, forceful and creative. Extended horn and guitar solos are the norm on the tracks, which are all long, ranging from 4 minutes and 6 seconds to 8 minutes and 23 seconds, yet are tight and never bore.

That Man’s Got to Go opens on a funk note with the first two tracks, “Best Damn Loving” and “Hee-Bie Gee-bies,” with the horns playing percussive riffs á là James Brown. The fourth track, “Not Another Moment,” is a contemporary jazz love ballad. The other six cuts are all city blues, up-tempo on track 3, “That Man’s Got To Go,” track 5, “Too Many Irons,” and the final track, “Meet Me.” Track 6, “Don’t Talk That Yak To Me,” is also up-tempo, but has more of a country feel, with slide guitar over a driving bass line. Tracks 7 through 9 presents an interlude of three long slow blues, the 7-minute, 44-second “Love I See In Your Eyes,” the 7-minute, 14-second “23 Hours & 45 Minutes,” and the 8-minute, 23-second rendition of Albert King’s “Aint Nobody’s Bizness.”

Sweet Claudette is a solid songwriter who bases herself on that standard theme of blues and jazz, men and love. Although “Hee-Bie Gee-bies” is a song of fear about those “things that go bump in the night,” all her other songs here are of men and love, both good and bad. “That Man’s Got To Go,” “Too Many Irons” and “Don’t Talk That Yak To Me” are all tales of bad, two-timing men, while “Best Damn Loving” celebrates her good man, and “Meet Me” is an exuberant party song of coming home to her man and his good love making. “Love I See In Your Eyes” and “Not Another Moment” are about relationships. The wry, uniquely-themed “23 Hours & 45 Minutes” is about her quick-on-the-draw man who completes the lovemaking in 15 minutes, leaving her to disconsolately lament, “Now what will I do with the other 23 hours and 45 minutes?” All this makes That Man’s Got to Go a most enjoyable CD indeed, variegated and well done.

Reviewer George Fish lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr, and writes a regular music column, “Blues and More” for the online Bloomington (IN) Alternative. He’s also published in the regional Indiana blues and alternative presses as well as Living Blues and Blues Access, and wrote the notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has also published on blues and pop music for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy, as well as the online Political Affairs and MRZine.

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