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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mar Vista Music artist: Donald Ray Johnson - These Blues - The Best of Donald Ray Johnson - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, These Blues - The Best of Donald Ray Johnson, and it's quite good. Opening with Al Green's Ain't No Fun To Me, Johnson hops right on Al Green's rhythm train and sticks it! Cool harp work over the melody gives it a more bluesy taste that Green's original R&B track. Gone So Long has a real nice blues saunter with call and response vocal/guitar riffs. An extended guitar solo with a Taj Mahal feel sets it off. With BB King style, title track, These Blues has a solid drive and stiff guitar riffs. A cool sax solo also sets this track apart. Pop ballad Always On My Mind is performed by Johnson with accompaniment on acoustic guitar. A crisp electric guitar solo add nice flavor. Slow Down Baby has a big swing and fat sax. One of the nicest grooves on the release, the guitar is hot and tasty. R&B style track Here To Stay features Johnson's vocals carried on a warm sax ride and a light percussion bass. Me And Jack (Daniels) has a boogie feel and steel guitar under riffs. Six string electric guitar and a tight back beat give this track a Texas feel. A soulful sax intro on Last Two Dollars leads to a cool soul/R&B track with very nice lead and backing vocals. Nice track. No Guitar Blues has a nice slow 12 bar format and nice vocal phrasing by Johnson. Excellent sax soloing brings the heat on this track and solo guitar work kicks it to the curb. Very cool! It Ain't Easy Being Blue has a real nice easy blues approach and Johnson's solid vocals supplemented by well placed guitar riffs make this a square hit. Thrilling You Killing Me leads off with some really tasty guitar riffs leading into a low key slow blues. Johnson's takes control on this track laying down some of the best vocals on the release and although the guitar takes a back seat, continues with nice punctuation throughout. On funky R&B track, Working Girl Blues, I particularly like the bass line on this track and a well articulated funky guitar solo really hits the spot. Wrapping the release is It's Time, is a organ based R&B track featuring rich vocals from Johnson over a Latin rhythm and searing electric guitar riffs.

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