The songs are classics associated with B.B. King “You Upset Me Baby” (ably reworked by Norcia); Bobby Bland’s “Turn On Your Love Light” (one of two terrific vocals from Malford Milligan the other being on the Butterfield Blues Band’s “Love Machine”); Billy Eckstine - Earl Hines’ “Jelly Jelly” and Lowell Fulson’s “Reconsider Baby” (Sung by John Nicholas who also sings Guitar Slim-Freddie King’s “Along About Midnight”); Buddy Guy’s “Mother-In-Law Blues” and B.B. King’s rendition of “Five Long Years” (sung by Willy Laws); Bland’s “Ain’t That Lovin’ You (sung by Salgado); Eddie Vinson’s “Somebody’s Got To Go” (sung by Sheerar) and Freddy King’s “I’m Tore Down (sung by Brian Templeton).
This is a marvelously played album of covers of classic blues. The band is excellent and the arrangements well done, even adding extra horns to several selections which had smaller groups on the original performances such as “I’m Tore Down” and “Going Down.” Toss in some strong vocals (and the only disappointing one is Nicholas on “Along About Midnight” and that is because my reference point is Guitar Slim and Roy Brown) and one has a terrific listening experience. Highpoint's include Milligan channelling Bobby Bland, Nicholas singing the Eckstine big band chestnut, Willie Law’s rendition of a lesser known Buddy Guy recording and Sheerar’s evocation of Cleanhead Vinson, but everything is a high level. With so many of the original performers no longer with us, this is a tribute not only to those days of the late 1960s but the music that inspired them.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the January-February 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 358). The Knickerbocker All Stars have a new platter "Go Back Home To The Blues" that I hope to post a review of shortly. Here is a clip of them performing this year.