Monday, December 24, 2012

Ronnie Earl Plays With Heart & Soul

The review below was part of a review of several Black Top Records compilations issued by Shout Factory in 2006 and appeared in the September-October Jazz & Blues Report (issue 286). I may have received this directly from Shout Factory or from the publication. Reviews of the Anson Funderburgh and Guitar Shorty compilations have already run. I have made some stylistic changes. I should point out that a  number of the Black Top recordings are available in reissue or mp3 and you might want to check collector's choice music as well as Amazon and other websites for the Black Top recordings.

Ronnie Earl has established a lengthy catalog since leaving Roomful of Blues with albums on Bullseye Blues, Telarc and Stony Plain in addition to his fine discs on Black Top. Heart and Soul; The Best of Ronnie Earl. Starting with Smokin’, we hear Earl expanding his musical palette incorporating jazz influences in his playing and repertoire over the years leading to his instrumentally recordings of recent years. 

Vocalists supported by Earl include, Sugar Ray Norcia (with whom Earl recorded as Ronnie Earl Horvath in the late seventies before he joined Roomful of Blues) handling Guitar Slim’s You Give Me Nothing But the Blues; Darrell Nulisch on the fittingly titled Soul Searchin’; Kim Wilson on I Smell Trouble; and Mighty Sam McClain on the stunning Earl original, A Soul That’s Been Abused from Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party

Instrumental features include a wonderful interpretation of Earl Hooker’s Blue Guitar as well as trading licks with Duke Robillard on What have I Done Wrong, from a 2005 Stony Plain recording, before closing with an instrumental rendition of Drown In My Own Tears, that features the great David ‘Fathead’ Newman. 

I am not sure whether this is really a Best of, but certainly is an excellent career retrospective of Mr. Earl’s music.

Here is Ronnie from 2012 doing a Kenny Burrell classic.

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