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Just Cant Afford It - CD REVIEWS


Tales from the woods
August 2001Review: Mike Sanchez – Just Can’t Afford It(MS 002)

Released on his own label, here’s the most recent CD to be issued by one of this country’s premier R&B talents. For many years Mike Sanchez led the popular and highly respected Big Town Playboys until he decided to go it alone in 1999. The Playboys soldier on as I write this but it has been said that their heart and soul has been taken away with Mike’s departure. That might just be true but, nonetheless, Sanchez continues to work all over Europe as a hot attraction, usually leading his own band but occasionally working with someone else (he has in fact just completed a nationwide tour with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings). But anyway, to the CD in front of me. The title track opens proceedings and it’s a brisk boogie, inked by Mr S with some fine piano riffing and solo work, plus some good guitar by Andy Silvester, who some of you may remember from his days with Chicken Shack in the late 60s. Andy was an original Playboy, left the Townies in ’91, rejoined in the late 90s and plays in Mike’s current line-up. More tasty boogie sounds exude from ‘Ramblin’ Boogie’ (with nice sax from Al Nicholls) which has an Amos Milburn feel to it and ‘Red Light Shack’ which reminds me a bit of Ray Charles’ ‘Mess Around’. There’s a wider range of musical styles on this album than on yer average Mike Sanchez collection and there are two Latinesque items ‘Vamos A Bailar’ and ‘Sombras’, which demonstrate Mike’s love for Hispanic music (he was in fact born in Hackney to Spanish parents). ‘3 Months, 3 Weeks, 3 Days’ is a good blues-ballad that’s often performed on live gigs, but I wasn’t so keen on the contemporary sounding ‘Messed With An Angel’ – but if material of this sort wins him fans beyond the realms of R&B that can only be a good thing. All the aforementioned songs are original compositions but, as with all Sanchez product, there are a few covers as well in this set. To give Jesse Belvin’s ‘Goodnight My Love’ a Jamaican lilt is a bold step but Mike just pulls it off – what do you think? Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s ‘Cuttin’ In’ was always a great favourite of mine and Mike’s is a faithful recreation. There’s a subdued but swinging take on Charles Edward’s ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’, boogie seekers will go for versions of Wynonie Harris’ ‘Adam Come And Get Your Rib’ and Roy Milton’s ‘Wakin’ Up Baby’. Rounding out this CD is a spirited version of Willie Mabon’s ‘Wow, I Feel So Good’ and the jazzy ‘Coalminer’. Something for everybody then on this release which is still a pretty strong collection. Incidentally, Mike spanks the plank on one or two songs (in fact, he began his career playing guitar in a rockabilly trio called the Rockets) and if you have trouble procuring a copy of this shiny wonder, write to PO Box 143, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY10 1YU. Apparently there’s a new CD due for release any day now entitled ‘Blue Boy’. There’ll be a review of that when it comes out, you can be sure.


CD REVIEW in What's On magazine
(May 2000). - MIKE SANCHEZ

Sadly, the Big Town Playboys and Mike Sanchez parted company right at the end of last year, about the same time as frontman Sanchez's solo debut ' JUST CAN'T AFFORD IT '. He's widening the scope , feeding in more of his own numbers, toying with styles other than hardline boogie woogie, returning to the guitar ( electric and acoustic ), providing basslines but not entirely relinquishing the keys. It's a strong statement in terms of songwriting, performance and production, veering from the fraught lip-quivering balladry of 'Messed with an angel' (Presley mixes tears with Orbison ) to the opening title track's rumbling rock'n'roll. For old BTP fans, there's Chuck Berry's ' Brown eyed handsome man' and Johnny Guitar Watson's 'Cutting in ', stinging the blues, horns punching the air. Then Sanchez refers back to the roots provided by his parents, singing in spanish on Lucho Gatica's 'Sombras' bolero, steeped in high drama, with minty trumpet crackles. Sanchez also contributes ' Vamos a bailar ', just like a 70's Nu Yorican street anthem, supremely catchy, guitar twanging, vocal refrain repeated incessantly. Recommended.



CD REVIEW from Norway, about MIKE SANCHEZ
Written by Rolf Stensletten - writer in the Norwegian R*O*C*K Magazine - (translated into English by Susan Andersen)
MIKE SANCHEZ – JUST CAN’T AFFORD IT, (1999) Own published, (P.O. Box 143, Kidderminster, Worcs. DV10 1YU, England), 14 melodies Time: 48:55

"Just Can't Afford It" shows that Mike Sanchez can manage remarkable well on his own after leaving the Big Town Playboys, the band he created with Ian Jennings in 1984.
The repertoire still catches, with blues you can dance to; rhythm & blues, steaming boogie woogie and swing, and also a couple of quick and slow latino tunes. "Sombras" and "Vamos A Bailar" are two of them. The first mentioned song, will be a little bit unfamiliar in many people's ears, but his own song "Vamos A Bailar" is on the other hand an incredible catchy and quick melody, where he has put in some elements from the blues. He also has a reggae version of "Goodnight My Love", but this song is a little tame and insignificant.
The album's highlight is obviously the two melodies "Just Can't Afford it" and "Ramblin Boogie", two steaming selfcomposed songs, that make your dancefoot swing and make your bloodstream run fast. The title melody gave me association to the Norwegian bluesman Reidar Larsen. Good versions of well chosen coversongs like Wynonie Harris's "Adam Come And Get Your Rib", Roy Miltons' "Waking Up Baby" and Willie Mabons' "Wow, I Feel So Good" makes this a great album.
Sanchez' qualities as a boogie pianist are well known, but on this cd, he is also an outstanding and a specially qualified guitarist.
The album works perfectly just for listening, but you should put on your dancingshoes and throw yourself into it!

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