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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Raoul and The Big Time - Hollywood Blvd. - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Hollywood Blvd, from Raoul and The Big Time and it's quite good. Opening with Nothin' Gonna Take Me Down, Raoul has enlisted some of the top blues talent on the continent including Rick Holmstrom on guitar, Jeff Turmes on bass, Stephen Hodges on drums and of course Raoul on harp and vocals. A loose blues infused stumble, this track is laced with hot guitar and harp riffs. Title track Hollywood Blvd, has a Latin R&B feel featuring Fred Kaplan on piano. Larry Taylor on bass and Richard Innes on drums give Raoul and Junior Watson a nice rhythm to lay out some great Chicago style solos. Bobby Blue Bland's Someday it given a really nice traditional feel and Raoul does a nice job on lead vocal. Frank Goldwasser really hits the target with hot guitar work on this track, backed by Darren Gallen on guitar, Terry Wilkins on bass, Tom Bona on drums, Pat Caret and Alison Young on sax and Jake Wilkinson on trumpet. Excellent! Shuffle track High Roller, strokes a nice chord with Kaplan on piano and Watson on drums. Raoul steps up on the track and a simple harp solo keeping this a cool compact blues track. Amphetamine is a high strung instrumental blues romp featuring great work from both Raoul on harp and Holmstrom on guitar. Another excellent track! Allan Toussaint track Get Out Of My Life Woman maintains that New Orleans lumber and features Rusty Zinn on guitar. It's always a treat to hear Zinn lay it down and Tyler Yarema adds some nice piano riffs on this track. Of special note on this track is the nice horn work of Carey, Young and Wilkinson. Left Coast Fred is a really cool boogie featuring really tasty guitar work from Watson and harp work by Raoul. Fred Kaplan taked a particularly cool piano solo on this track and Larry Taylor steps up with a nice upright bass solo as well. Staples Singers track Why Am I Treated So Bad is an easy soul track with a simple pop rhythm. Tired is a down and dirty blues track again with hot guitar work from Watson and crisp piano work from Kaplan. Raoul really lays out some nice harp work on this track making this one of the best tracks on the release. Jump track Spoken For again gives a clean dance floor for Watson to torch the fretboard. I mean he's not out there alone, but he really does a nice job. Strong bass work from Taylor and of course vocal and harp work from Raoul are icing on this smoker. Curtis Salgado steps up to the mike on harp on Curtis Charm with great backing from Raoul, Darren Gallen on guitar, Wilkins on bass, Bona on drums and Yarema on piano. A really nice laid back blues track with two fine harp players laying it all out there. Traditional track, In The Shadow Of The Pine brings to mind some of the depression era tracks cut by Ry Cooder. Surprisingly enough, this is one of my favorite tracks on the release featuring Johnny Sansone on accordian, Raoul on acoustic guitar and vocal, Wilkins on bass and John Showman on violin. This is a really quiet conclusion to a pretty hot release.  

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