People Don’t Care
Shanachie, which also is the parent label for Yazoo, is best known for acoustic and world beat music. With this debut album of West Coast bluesman Finis Tasby, the label presents its first modern urban blues release. Playing and singing for over three decades, Tasby’s Texas band, The Thunderbirds, spawned a young Z.Z. Hill. Over recent years he has played with Freddie King, Lowell Fulson, John Lee Hooker and others, and recorded some singles. He finally has his first full album, and he has obviously made friends over the years as Elvin Bishop, Mick Taylor and Vernon Reid each guest on guitar and solo, while Lowell Fulson shares a vocal on Find Something Else to Do, and wrote Just a Kiss.
Tasby is a gritty singer and guitarist and his music is suggestive of the late sixties and early seventies recordings by Fulson and McCracklin. He also co-wrote four of the ten songs, and producer Charles Collins had his hand in another four. Shanachie describes this as a set of rocking blues, but Tasby’s gritty vocals and guitar is undercut by the vocal choruses and horn arrangements on some of the cuts. Fulson’s Just a Kiss, is a terrific song in which the chorus is successfully integrated in the terrific performance. This and the duet with Fulson, Find Something Else to Do, best display Tasby’s strengths, and even if the horns overplay on Gotta Draw the Line or the shuffle Po’ Boy Blues, Tasby convincingly delivers the lyrics and adds biting guitar. Drinkin’ Bad Whiskey is a slow Tasby original about how alcohol and drugs can’t ease his pain which is fervently sung and sports a fiery solo. Gonna Miss Your Love is a medium tempo number with a latin tinge and a cooing backing chorus that comes across because it is more understated in delivery.
There is plenty about Finis Tasby to like here, despite the heavy-handed production in some areas. Unfortunately, this album could have some marketing problems, as it seems to be aimed towards the southern black blues audience and Shanachie might have a tough time cracking that market. At the same time, the vocal choruses and horns on several tracks might diminish its appeal among white blues buyers, who are often oriented to guitar solo based albums. This would be a shame, as there is some terrific Finis Tasby to be heard here.
I likely received my review copy from Shanachie. This review originally appeared in the September 1995 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 204). Here is Finis Tasby performing "As the Years Go Passing By."