If You Need Me
Robert Ealey is somewhat of a legend around the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and has made several recordings before this. Backed by a variety of Dallas area musicians (including Mike Morgan, Sumter Bruton and Tone Somner) and special guests (Coco Montoya), he has produced a set of blues that covers a wide range of stylistic bases, from Chicago blues to Texas jump, and even a Tex-Mex flavored number.
Ealey is an appealing vocalist with a slightly slurred diction. He can put forth a nice Chicago shuffle, as on the opening Turn Out the Lights, or the slow I Had a Dream, both with Hash Brown’s full-bodied harp, and the jump-flavored groove on She’s a Rocket works well (perhaps attributable to Bruton’s T-Bone Walker flavored guitar that kicks it off and Johnny Reno’s booting sax). Also appealing is the Tex-Mex flavored Tica. The title tune is a soulful ballad with Reno ripping off a tough sax break, but one can imagine another vocalist handling this a bit more forcefully. The small group instrumentation gives a novel flavor to The River, a thinly disguised reworking of Percy Mayfield’s River Invitation, but Ealey is not convincing here, and the backing falls apart.
Certainly an engaging album which makes accessible a stalwart of the Dallas region’s blues scene, but Ealey comes off as only a workmanlike vocalist on this.
This review originally appeared in the March 1995 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 199). Robert Ealey passed away in 2001. I likely received a review copy from the recording copy, a publicist or the publication. Here is Robert Ealey in performance.