American Showplace Music
One of the real pleasures of the past few years were releases by the Andy T - Nick Nixon Band. Health issues has forced Nixon to have to retire from performing and his vocals on this album are his last. Guitarist Andy Talamantez has since recruited Michael A. Benjamin, aka Alabama Mike, to become the lead vocalist with his group. On this new release, Nixon and Alabama Mike each take 6 vocals and their is one instrumental.This is co-produced by Andy T and Anson Funderburgh, who adds his guitar to four tracks. Others on this session include Larry van Loon on keyboards (Mike Flanigan is one one track); Johnny Bradley on bass; Jim Klinger on drums and Greg Izor on harmonica for one track. Kaz Kazanoff leads the Texas Horns as part of the backing.
Fans of Gulf Coast to West Coast blues will find much to enjoy here starting with a shuffle "I Want You Bad," with Alabama Mike's gospel rooted vocals along with backing from Andy T's Johnny 'Guitar' Watson meets Ike Turner fretwork along with Funderburgh's own Texas meets B.B. King approach. Alabama Mike is very strong on the Nixon-penned, crying blues, "Sad Times," and the strong original he wrote with Andy T and Anson, "Doin ' Hard Time." With Izor on harmonica adding a country flavor, Nixon ably delivers the lyrics on a Jimmy Reed-influenced shuffle, "Deep Inside," a Nixon's original. Nixon also delivers solid vocals on a couple of Chuck Willis' numbers "I Feel So Bad" (patterned after Little Milton's recording) and "Juanita." Both also have strong guitar, but the latter number stands out perhaps because it is less familiar. Nixon's solid cover of Goree Carter's "Drunk or Sober," has a understated mambo groove blistering guitar and gutbucket tenor sax from Kazanoff, while on "I Was Gonna Leave You," Nixon evokes the deep soul Goldwax recordings of James Carr, with another solid sax solo and Funderburgh's biting lead guitar.
Funderburgh's "Mudslide," is a relaxed instrumental shuffle showcasing both guitarists and van Loon. "Where Did Our Love Go Wrong," is a swamp pop ballad written by Kazanoff, with a strong Alabama Mike vocal, another terrific slashing guitar solo in the vein of Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, and a booting baritone sax solo from John Mills. It closes this excellent collection of blues performances and shows that with Alabama Mike, Andy T will be continuing the fine modern blues that he had been making with Nick Nixon.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a short video of Andy T Band with Alabama Mike in performance.