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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Delmark artist: Al Miller - In Between Time - New Release Review

I just received and have been listening to the newest release, In Between Time, by Al Miller. Due to some family issues I found my self in sunny Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last week and had the pleasure to listen to this release numerous time while on the road. While driving, I rarely have time to look at the liner notes but now that I am writing my review, some of my passing thoughts actually make sense. I'll begin by saying, I kept thinking that I was listening to a Mike Bloomfield or early Paul Butterfield album. In reading the press release, I note that Miller was a part of the '60's Butterfield scene and played often with Bloomfield. This does not sound at all like a clone. It sounds like the real deal. The release opens with McCracklin/Taub track, Rockin' All Day. A rockin' boogie, this starts the entire release with a great groove with Billy Flynn (guitar), Willie Big Eyes Smith (drums), Barrelhouse Chuck (piano), and of course Miller on vocal and harp. BB King's Need You So Bad has a nice foamy lope to it. John Primer leads the way on this track playing guitar and singing. Dave Specter plays some cool guitar riffs on this track joined by Mike Schlick on drums and Harlan Terson on bass. Definitely a hot track! Johnny Young's My Baby Walked Out features some of Millers best vocals and harp and Chuck really does a great job on the 88's on this track. Original track Old Friends has a Latin beat featuring Kenny Smith on drums, Ken Saydak on piano and hot Albert King like riffs by Dave Specter. Miller pulls out the stops on this track blowing some great harp riffs. In Between Time, another original by Miller, shows Miller with a guitar in hand playing some cool primitive slide work over a very stripped down track. Another Johnny Young track, I Got It, is a smokin' hot harmonica blowout. Pushed by Flynn, Smith and Saydak this is a great track. Willie Dixon's Dead Presidents finds Primer again at the helm with vocal and guitar. Accompanied by Mike Schlick on drums and Harlan Terson on bass Miller plays cool harp riffs and Barry Winograd and John Brumbach add a nice sax solo. Another Miller original, A Better Day,features nice guitar work by Flynn and Specter. One of the most enjoyable traditional tracks on the recording, Miller really gets into his vocal strength. On another Johnny Young track, Tighten Up On It, I can smell the beer and cigarettes. This is the Chicago blues just the way it was meant to be played. Never hear this on contemporary records anymore. Barrelhouse Chuck lays down the riffs and the mix is perfect.Flynn is also guilty of some superb riffage on this track with Big Eyes keeping the bottom tight. Elmore James' 1839 Blues features Primer again on vocals and he does a superb job. Ken Saydak shows why his piano work is in high demand and the tone from Millers harp is spot on. Primer takes a nice guitar solo on this track and it is solid and enticing. Billy Flynn's Billy's Boogie is a real rocker of course featuring some outstanding guitar work from Flynn ... not to be missed. Miller plays a hot solo on harp on this track as does Saydak and Mike Schlick keeps it all together. Excellent track! Percy Mayfield track Bachelor Blues really conjures up the feeling of the old Bloomfield days for me. Again Miller shows his best on vocals and harp on this track. Barrelhouse Chuck and Big Eyes are right on the spot and the track creates the feel of the real deal... it is! Eddie Taylor's If You Don't Want Me Baby fits perfectly into this set with a bit of a HD Taylor beat. It's a great pickup track before the great track by Miller, Lake Michigan Waters. Billy Flynn plays some flaming hot work on this track with what I'd even say sound reminiscent of old Bloomfield riffs. Along with the great playing of Miller and Saydak this track may be one of the most intense on the recording. Specter and Primer step out a little on guitar on Lawhorn Special. Miller knocks down some cool riffs as well but it's the guitars that take this cake. Al Miller original Blizzard wraps up this really coherent authentic Chicago blues release. Flynn and Primer playing some stinging guitar riffs over heavy reverb riffs on this track and kenny Smith is really particularly crisp with his beat on this track. This may be one of the best modern "Chicago" blues albums to come out in a long time.

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I apologize that the band featured is not the band on the recording, but Al Does play harp here so I'll post a new one when I can find it. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Long overdue recognition for an excellent musician who got together a handful of aces, as you said.