Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mike Morgan & The Crawl Get Stronger Every Day

Mike Morgan & the Crawl have been around for a number of years, first recording for Black Top with Darrell Nulisch's vocals fronting the band, later replaced with Lee McBee. For the past two decades he has been putting forth what he describes as ‘Classic Blues With a Modern Attitude.’ Initially inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan, he soon developed into anything but a SRV clone, and his band is named after a gritty Goldband single by Guitar Jr. (Lonnie Brooks).

Morgan’s latest CD is on Severn, Stronger Every Day and finds him backed by a trio on most of this with organ added on 5 of the 14 tracks. Morgan handles four vocals while McBee adds three and McAllister sings on five tracks. He takes things off in a Stevie Ray groove on the opening shuffle, All Night Long, as he forcefully delivers his about crying for his woman and walking the floor all night long, before laying out his solo with a cluster of fast repeated single notes before taking off for a bars as bassist Drew Allain provides the repeated bass shuffle groove to anchor this performance. McAllister provides a soul-tinged vocal on a R&B flavored message number about stop the killing, Where’s the Love, with Morgan’s guitar taking on a different tenor.

A bit of swamp blues and Guitar Slim is evoked by Lee McBee’s raspy vocal and Morgan’s guitar on Sweet Angel. McBee also delivers a superb vocal on the down and out blues, I Cried For My Baby. Morgan takes a nice vocal on a Chicago-styled shuffle for You're The One (I'll Miss The Most), on which McBee adds some nice harp in the vein of Rice Miller. McAllister handles the vocal on the title track which is a lovely swamp pop soul ballad, while When I Get Back Home, is more of a classic southern soul ballad. The Birthday Song, is a jaunty song from the point of view of the Birthday Boy that Morgan delivers in a crisp, lively fashion. Morgan shines on a couple instrumentals including an appropriately bouncy Okie Dokie Stomp. As McBee takes the vocal on the closing rocker, Time, Morgan’s takes it out to a very satisfying conclusion to a well-balanced program of blues with roots touches that adds to his body of music that merits more attention than he has generally received. Recommended.

This review originally appeared in the April 2008 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 303) and to my knowledge is Mike Morgan's latest recording for Severn. On February 14, I posted a review of a couple of older Mike Morgan albums. I received my review copy from Severn Records.

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