Strong Like That
Severn has just issued the latest by The Fabulous Thunderbirds, "Strong Like That." While in its earliest incarnation it was as much associated with both pop tunes and classic blues, this new release is rhythm and blues associated with a distinct Memphis-Muscle Shoals flavor starting with the opening rendition of the Temptations classic "(I Know) I'm Losing You" on which Roosevelt Collier adds steel guitar behind Wilson and this edition of the Thunderbirds of Johnny Moeller on guitar, Kevin Anker on keyboards, Steve Gomes on bass and Robb Stupka on bass. Wilson immediately establishes how authoritative a singer he is and while playing harp, Collier's steel guitar dominates the performance as it takes it out while Wilson adds harp.
Paul Kelly's southern soul classic "Don't Burn Me" follows with a guest appearance from Anson Funderburgh with Wilson's very soulful singing caressed by the solid accompaniment and backing vocals along with Funderburgh's guitar break. It is followed by some swampy blues soul with Moeller's effective use of tremolo and Wilson's harp on "You're Gonna Miss Me." Wilson and band provides a fresh arrangement of an Albert King recording, "Drowning On Dry Land," with some harp that evokes Junior Parker on a terrific, and original performance of this number. Wilson's original "Smooth," has a danceable loping groove and nice harp and the title might aptly describe the character of the performances here, smoothly and cleanly executed by also soulful and far from sterile. Nice punchy horns here led and arranged by trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse.
After a solid cheating soul number, "Somebody's Getting It," Wilson opens his original "Meet Me On the Corner," with some tough amplified harp, as he tells his lady to meet him when no one can see. Also among the songs here is a nice rendition of the Eddie Floyd classic "I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)." Gomes contributed the closing title track, another strong slice of soul-laced blues with some harp, solid horns behind a fine vocal that closes this fine new recording by the Thunderbirds.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the November-December 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 369). Here is a video of this edition of The Fabulous Thunderbirds from 2016.