Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kay Kay and The Rays Produced Strong and Timely Blues

Catfood Records has just issued The Best of Kay Kay and the Rays, a compilation of the three albums the label issued from the big-voiced and big hearted Kay Kay Greenwade and The Rays. Health issues have shortened the career of this powerful vocalist while The Rays can be heard on recent Catfood Recordings by Johnny Rawls with whom they sometimes perform live.

The Rays formed in Odessa Texas and their material was a funky mix of soul and blues with original songs marked by social commentary (as well as commentary on the relations between the sexes). The exhibit strong playing with Kay Kay belting out the vocals. Long Star Justice is an indictment of that state’s judicial and penal system which as Johnny Rawls notes in his spoken intro has more folks in prison than anywhere in the world and where so many are executed, all being poor. as Kay Kay shouts out justice is the best money can buy and where they spend more money on prisons than on social purposes. More topicality is heard in Enron Field where she tells us about going to see a game but not forgetting to talk about the country club justice afforded to white collar criminals like those involved with Enron. Then there’s Texas Justice - Billy’s Story, of a young man who is convicted of murder even though he acted in self-defense, only afforded a legal aid attorney fresh out of Law School.

There are her songs about relationships including not wanting No Mama’s Boys and Hey Big Boy, about one whose tales and approaches she ain’t buying. As she sings, don’t trust no man who has taken his wedding ring off. Of course she can give the others side of relationships as on Big, Bad Girl, a gold digger she warns men to stay away from. Then there is a change in mood with a lovely soul ballad, Don’t Have To Tell Me, and a terrific duet with Johnny Rawls on Rawls’ Hold On To What You Got.

The Rays match her intensity with solid support, although the arrangements at times sound generic. The playing on the duet with Rawls is exceptional. Saxophonist Andy Roman is exceptional on several songs and Johnny Rawls and Junior Jones add guitar on several selections. This writer remembers how impressed was when he purchased “Texas Justice” one of the three albums anthologized here and certainly this collection shows how formidable Kay Kay and the Rays were. Recommended.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is some Kay Kay & The Rays from you tube. 

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