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BLUE BOY - Reviews



Now Dig This
Issue 230, May 2002
Sanchez MS003

Someday / Hurtin’ Inside / Tell Me Who / Blue Boy / Come Back Baby / Sapphire / Fast Train / Strange Love / Shame, Shame, Shame / Everyday, Everynight / Love My Baby / I Wanna Do More / Wildcat Tamer / Well Baby / I Miss You So / Rebound (Playing time: 45:31)

We all have a mental short list of fave artists whose albums we religiously buy on release without testing the waters first, purely and simply because we know it’s highly unlikely we’re going to be disappointed with our auto pilot purchases.

One of the guys who features high on my personal list is Mike Sanchez. ‘Blue Boy’, his third solo offering, is a veritable 24-caret gem, offering the listener a forty odd minute breeze along the highways and byways of r&b, rock n roll, country and rockabilly. The choice of material, as well as the choice of musicians enlisted to play it, is exemplary and wherever you drop the laser on to this CD’s shiny surface it simply oozes class.

The album explodes into life with ‘Someday’, a solid rocker that sets the mood for the rest of the set. Brook Benton’s ‘Hurtin’ Inside’ treads a similar path, the band laying down an archetypal New Orleans beat behind Mike’s soulful vocal. Continuing the Crescent City theme, ‘Tell Me Who’ is nothing short of a masterpiece. Crank up the hi-fi, close your eyes and prepare to be transported back in time to Cosimo Matassa’a J&M Studio on North Rampart and Dumaine; Mark Morgan’s muscular drumming and Al Nicholl’s tenor evoking memories of Earl Palmer and Herb Hardesty respectively.

Similarly, the Jack Hammer-penned wild rocker ‘Sapphire’ attempts to recreate the electric atmosphere of a fifties Little Richard session for Art Rupe’s Specialty Records – Mike pounding and orating in fine style whilst guitar guv’nor Andy Silvester adds fuel to the fire with some shimmering Ike Turner-infected guitar fills.

Biggest surprise for a lot of people will be the inclusion of the title track, an old Jim Reeves number which works to perfection. Andy Silvester weaves his guitar magic with some atmospheric pedal steel that fits snugly around Mike’s tear-stained vocal. ‘Fast Train’, the only self-penned track, is a rockabilly number that ploughs a similar furrow to Elvis’ ‘Mystery Train’. It’s then a case of taking a fast train to Louisiana to revisit Slim Harpo’s ‘Strange Love’ before catching a flyer over to New Orleans, the birth place of Smiley Lewis’ classic ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’ – Mike’s version sticking pretty close to Smiley’s original arrangement.

Chicago blues takes a bow, courtesy of Little Walter’s ‘Come Back Baby’ and Billy Boy Arnold’s ‘Everyday, Everynight’, both featuring appropriately respectful harp licks by Ricky Cool. Mike adopts a swaggering anti-fem dom stance to great effect on ‘Wildcat Tamer’, a number no doubt familiar to a good deal of NDT readers via the original by Tarheel Slim.

Leiber & Stoller’s ‘I Wanna Do More’, a fifties vehicle for songstress Ruth Brown, features Mike and the boys in a more laid-back groove that’s replicated to a certain degree on ‘I Miss You So’ and ‘Well Baby’ – both memorable for some glorious blues licks from Andy that strongly suggest he’s an admirer of US blues guitar hero, Jimmie Vaughan. To round the whole shooting match off there’s a robust version of Charlie Rich’s ‘Rebound’. This wasn’t actually included on the track listing of the copy I obtained – so beware you don’t pass it by!

Superb album. Superb musicianship. Superb material. Sheer heaven.

What more can I say?

-- Pete O’Gorman





Tales from the woods
September 2001
Review: Mike Sanchez – Blue Boy – (MS 003)

As promised last month, here’s a look at Mike Sanchez’s new CD. Like the previous collection Just Can’t Afford It, it’s released on his own label and, unlike the previous collection, it’s exclusively rhythm’n’blues, some rockin’, some slow, but all with that distinctive Sanchez stamp. The only original composition in the set, ‘Fast Train’ is a hard driving up tempo opus that powers along, with bassist Al Gare and guitarist Andy Silvester in particular shovelling on the coal.
Mike’s road band (Gare, Silvester, tenor saxist Al Nicholls and drummer Mark Morgan) are heard to great effect throughout the album and harp blower Ricky Cool (the original frontman of the Big Town Playboys) guests on the down-home ‘Everyday, Everynight’ as does trumpeter Dave Priseman on a fine version of Smiley L’s ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’. Popularised (if that’s the right word to use) by Bobby Vee, ‘Someday’ bounces along splendidly as does a take on Brook Benton’s ‘Hurtin’ Inside’. Billy Myles’ ‘Tell Me Who’ is a good jiver for those who like to jive (I dunno – I can’t jive!)

The title track was first known to me through a version by Jim Reeves and the slow shuffle utilised on Gentleman Jim’s cut has been replaced by a steady, loose beat on Mike’s. Good guitar from Andy S. More blues sounds abound with Little Walter’s ‘Come back Baby’, Slim Harpo’s ‘Strange Love’, the excellent ‘I Miss You So’ and Young Jessie’s ‘Well Baby’. The Sanchez vocal chords are given a thorough workout on Big Danny Oliver’s ‘Sapphire’. ‘Love My Baby’ is a song beloved of all Sun worshippers and Mike’s version combines the vocal phrasing of Junior Parker’s original with the musical approach of Hayden Thompson’s rockabilly cover. The Ruth Brown songbook is plundered for ‘I Wanna Do More’ and a brisk run through Tarheel Slim’s ‘Wildcat Tamer’ concludes a fine set. Or does it? Prospective buyers take note: there is an extra, unlisted track at the end of the CD, a nice version of Charlie Rich’s ‘Rebound’.




May 2001 - Blackcat Rockabilly - Blue Boy
(MS003, 2001)

Mike is back! And the master is treating you with fifteen of his all time favourite songs, a collection of timeless ass-kicking rock 'n' roll and rhythm & blues. Mike's third solo album on his own MS label, is a grand follow up for "Just A Game" (MS001) and "Just Can't Afford It" (MS002). An album that takes you back to the 50s era, when music was pure and true, and presents you with various authentic rockin' styles, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, r&b, country and pop.

The first track is Bobby Vee's "Someday" in a revved up rocking style. You will notice immediately that Mike has some the best rocking musicians on the scene in his band. And Mike's fabulous black tainted voice comes out beautifully on Brook Benton's "Hurtin' Inside".

I can't tell you who did the original of "Tell Me Who", but rockabilly fans will surely remember Warren Smith's SUN version best and it sounds just great with saxes and piano. The title song is Jim Reeves' hit "Blue Boy", a touch of country (with pedal steele), to slow down the pace before carrying on with some real gone raving blues on Little Walter's "Come Back Baby" and some rocking piano rock 'n' roll on Big Danny Oliver's "Sapphire".

Next is the only Mike Sanchez original on this album, titled "Fast Train", a mix of rockabilly and r&b with two grand guitar solos. "Strange Love" is a blues song, with harmonica by Ricky Cool, and yet another one of Mike voices. Yes, it seems as if Mike has a dozen different voices to pick from. The Smiley Lewis song "Shame, Shame, Shame (On You Miss Roxy)" from the 1956 movie "Baby Doll" is swinging r&b with some jazz influences. The authentic blues song "Every Day, Every Night" (Eddie Bo, I believe) gives you a chance to catch your breath before hitting off again with Junior Parkers all time classic "Love My Baby".

One of my favourite r&b felines (sorry, females) is Ruth Brown, and she is not forgotten on this collection, hence a swinging version of the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song "I Wanna Do More". The rocking "Wildcat Tamer" is well known on the rockabilly scene, due to Mac Curtis' Rollin' Rock recording, originally an r&b song, Mike Sanchez revives it with passion.

Two more rhythm & blues songs, "Well Baby" and "I Miss You So", finish this 3rd Mike Sanchez album. Most of the album is r&b, and not rockabilly, as you would expect on this website, but rockabilly emerged from rhythm & blues and hillbilly music, and you can believe me, Mike will rock your socks on this platter. Fifties style! Oh, and there's is bonus song hidden behind the last track, Ray Smith's "Rebound", a rocking closer for a top album!





May 2001 - Red Lick Records - Blue Boy
Blue Boy Review

This is the Mike Sanchez solo CD you’ve been waiting for! Here’s Mike mixing guitar driven Southern blues with a whole slew of rhythm and blues piano boogies and rolls. To join him he’s assembled a killer band that virtually amounts to a Big Town Playboys reunion!
Al Nicholls is blowin’ sax, Ricky Cool plays harp, Mark Morgan keeps the beat, Andy Silvester is all over the place on lead guitar and pedal steel and King Pleasure’s Al Gare is down at the deep end on double bass. And of course, here’s Mike playing wonderful piano, strapping on the electric guitar and singing better than ever- his vocals on this album are electrifying!
As you’d expect, the music is heaving with shakers and stompers from the repertoires of Slim Harpo, Billy Myles, Larry Williams, Little Walter, Junior Parker and Tarheel Slim. There are fifteen tracks here and not a dud amongst ‘em. In fact it’s hard to pick out a standout but for an old Excello freak like me, Sanchez’s version of Slim Harpo’s “Strange Love” is a favourite. I love the reverberating bass lines, the simmering guitar licks, Ricky Cool’s harmonica and the way the whole thang just lollops along. Perfect! Tarheel Slim’s “Wildcat Tamer” gets the full treatment too- tons of swirling guitar, pumping bass and upbeat percussion slammin’ away while Sanchez wails out just like Elvis on Union Avenue.
If you want to hear Sanchez let rip on the keyboards, you’ll love his driving version of Lieber & Stoller’s “I Wanna Do More”, it’s a poppin’ little number with great bass, tremendous piano and some hefty sax. You get more on Brook Benton’s quirky “Hurtin’ Inside” which is driven along by Sanchez’s intricate piano and features tons of great horn from Al Nicholls and trumpet player Dave Priseman. Then there’s big banging’ R&B on “Tell Me More”, a real rocker with funky drumming and some of the best raspin’ sax you’ve ever heard. Let’s face it, this CD rocks! Junior Parker’s “Come Back Baby” barrels along thanks to Mark Morgan’s terrifying backbeat and a persistent electric guitar lick before Ricky Cool thunders in with some scorching harmonica. Then, if you really want to rock out, just listen to “Sapphire”- it’s a true 50s rocker with screaming vocals, finger bustin’ piano, some explosive whammy-bar guitar and a monumental backbeat. A killer.
One other thing- I nearly forgot to tell you about the Jim Reeves song! “Blue Boy” is a cool country tune given an R&B edge by buoyant piano and bass and Mike’s Nat Cole vocals. It also features some nice guitar and impressive pedal steel from Andy Silvester. And it’s good enough to be the hit single from this CD!
This is the Mike Sanchez rocker we’ve all been waiting for- it’s nothing less than a world class set of R&B, blues and rock’n’roll by a tremendous band.



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