Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blue Lunch's Special - 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

30 years is a pretty long time for any band to hang together, and while some members may come and go, Cleveland’s Blue Lunch has kept doing it with a mix of jump blues in the vein of early Roomful of Blues and Chicago blues. Rip Cat Records has just issued their Special - 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, compiled from their six CDs. The core personnel appear to be Bob Frank on guitar and vocals; Pete London on harmonica and vocals; Raymond DeForrest on bass and one lead vocal; Scott Flowers or Mike Janowitz on drums; Mike Rubin on trumpet; Mike Sands on piano, Bob Michael on trombone and Norman Tischler or Keith McKelley on tenor sax. The 16 tracks include live recordings are included along with studio ones with 8 originals and 8 covers.

An instrumental by Frank, Sideswiped, kicks this CD off with a funky groove, tight horns and solid guitar and solid sax from McKelley. Next up is Frank’s Cold Day Down Below, with a second line groove and more tough sax (this time from Tischler). Skin Bones and Hair, is a terrific T-Bone Walker styled shuffle from Frank with some nice T-Bone inspired playing from him. London handles the vocal on his hot rocker, Cuttin’ Up, where Tischler rips a terrific tenor sax solo as Frank chords under him and the rhythm section swings hard with some more T-Bone inspired playing from Frank on a live rendition that got the dancers jitter-bugging hard. London’s The Fidget showcases his strong harmonica playing set against the rocking rhythm and riffing horns. Best I Can is a tough-sounding slow blues.

The choice of covers is interesting from a lesser known Jackie Brenston number Leo the Louse; a straight cover of 60 Minute Man; and The Five Royales amusing Monkey Hips & Rice. Frank does a fairly nice rendition of Robert Lockwood’s Little Boy Blue, backed just by the rhythm section. The most surprising cover is a three tenor sax feature on Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness that allows McKelley to display his jazz chops with guest tenor players Christopher Burge and Tony Koussa. This is followed by the rainy night feel of The Lonely One.

London handles the vocal on the amusing cover of Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law that closes this varied and quite engaging recording by this tight and swinging, jump blues band. Special - 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition will likely enlarge Blue Lunch’s fan base beyond the band’s Cleveland roots.

A publicist provided the review copy. Here is the late Robert Lockwood, Jr., playing with Blue Lunch.

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