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Tommy McCoy – Late In The Lonely Night

Earwig Music

11 tracks; 41.39 minutes

Tommy McCoy has been based in Florida for many years and has recorded with a number of well-known blues performers, including Lucky Peterson and Double Trouble, but here he is centre stage with mostly a quartet format of guitar, keys, bass and drums. Tommy has support from two different rhythm sections and several keyboard players; young slide guitarist Joel Tatengelo appears on two tracks as does sax player Bob Saccente. Liz Pennock plays piano on one track, as does Rick Hatfield on harp and Karyn Denham sings on two cuts. All bar two tracks are McCoy originals, the two exceptions both coming from the pen of Eddie Cornelius and were originally hits for the Cornelius family soul group in the early 1970s. “Too Late To Turn Back Now” was covered quite recently by Tad Robinson and it would be a tough call to match Tad’s wonderful voice. Tommy does not do so but his guitar playing is excellent throughout the song. “Treat Her Like A Lady” is not the Temptations song but another Eddie Cornelius song with a similar sentiment in terms of lyrics and a strong rhythm with sax and guitar working well together, making this one of the catchiest tunes on the CD.

The CD opens with the title song, a classic mid-tempo blues with excellent guitar and a strong organ solo. “Angel On My Shoulder, Devil On My Back” is a funkier tune embellished by Joel Tatengelo’s slide guitar. “Never Shoulda Listened” is a great stomper with Liz Pennock’s barrelhouse piano to the fore, honking sax and Karyn Denham sharing the vocals with Tommy – a song that lists those to whom the author wishes he had never listened: lots of targets here, from the personal to political. I don’t know Karyn but on this evidence she has a great voice which could well deserve more exposure.

“Space Master” is apparently a live favourite and it is easy to see why as Tommy battles with drummer Pug Baker as well as sharing the guitar duties with Joel Tatengelo. “Language Of Love” lives up to the title by being a real love song delivered by Karyn Denham in collaboration with Tommy. In contrast we get “Cars, Bars And Guitars”, a tongue in cheek piece about what Tommy spends his money on. Musically this is a laid back tune which allows us to enjoy the ironic lyrics. “Life’s Tides” started out as a poem and is a further switch of theme; gentle piano and guitar introduce a beautiful song with delicate and emotional guitar. Sadly Tommy’s voice struggles to deliver this one but it is a song that might well be covered by others in due course.

The amusing “Dance Your Pants Off” has sax and harp in support of Tommy’s song which explains how he plans to get his girl by feats of endurance on the dance floor! Closer “My Guitar Won’t Play Nothin’ But The Blues” is another amusing song: “I got a beat-up old Gibson guitar, that thing nearly made me a star. I wouldn’t trade it for a beautiful girl, it has paid its shares of dues – my guitar won’t play nothin’ but the blues”.

It is good to hear so many original songs that make you think and enjoy the lyrics. Tommy sings very clearly and you can catch all the lyrics straight off the bat. On the down side his voice does not have a great range but he is clearly an excellent guitar player and the songs are a fine spread of contemporary blues and rock. Excellent playing and production make this a CD worth checking out.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in April.

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