Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mike Morgan & The Crawl - Texas Men

Mike Morgan & the Crawl is one of the acts that emerged on the late lamented Black Top label with a rootsy tinge blues attack that was especially rooted in the traditions of Texas and the Gulf Coast. Starting in 2002, Severn Records started issuing new recordings by this band. Later they issued a CD of Morgan with fellow Texan Randy McAllister. Here are two reviews from a few years back of the Mike Morgan and The Crawl releases with some minor editing to reflect the republication. Severn Records provided me with the review copies.

First up is a review from 2002 of Texas Man, that originally appeared in the September/October 2002 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 259).

Veteran Texas bluesman Mike Morgan’s new album Texas Man (Severn), brings together Gulf Coast gumbo and guitar shuffles with a healthy dose of Hound Dog Taylor inspired Chicago slide boogies.

Originally issued in Holland, Texas Man opens with the title track, a shuffle that celebrates Morgan’s Texas origins and Texas blues. Renditions of Guitar Gable’s swamp blues instrumental Guitar Rhumbo and Morgan’s original Whoa My Darlin’, show how comfortable he is working within the Louisiana Swamp Blues vein. The latter number almost sounds like a new Lazy Lester number while Wild About You Baby, Gimme Back My Wig, Taylor’s Rock and See Me in the Evening, are Hound Dog Taylor-styled slide guitar romps. Five Thousand Miles From Home is a terrific slow blues with Riley Orborne’s organ contributing nice atmosphere.

Among the others who can be heard backing Morgan’s earnest singing and strong fretwork are guitarists Jon Moeller and Anson Funderburgh, and harmonica player Gary Primich. Perhaps nothing musically original here, but everything is done so well and with enthusiasm and spirit. One will have a hard time not tapping one’s foot listening to this.

The following review of Live in Dallas appeared in the April 2004 DC Blues Calendar.

Severn has just issued the latest cd by them,, Live in Dallas. Paired with second guitarist Chris Zalez, bassist Rhandy Simmons and drummer Kevin Schermerhorn, Morgan treats the Dallas club crowd to some rocking music.

Much of this is originals, although Morgan and (Lee) McBee did not write the classic Earl King number Those Lonely, Lonely Nights. Nothing profound here, just hard rocking blues for an enthusiastic Texas crowd as he tells his lady he loves her too much on One of a Kind, while on Frankie Lee Sims’ Frankie’s Blues, he slows down the groove and delivers the vocal in a straightforward, effective manner. Mother--in-Law Blues benefits from the nice easy groove that Morgan & the Crawl hit.

Perhaps some of the lengthier performances might have benefited from some editing, but that is a minor quibble. Morgan is a steady singer and a guitarist who really works the groove while spinning out his lines and the Crawl is rock solid behind him, resulting some entertaining blues.

Here is Mike Morgan & the Crawl in performance.

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