Saturday, March 27, 2010
Koko TAYLOR - Royal Blue 2000
ROYAL BLUE was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
For her first album in seven years, Koko Taylor returns with a flurry of gritty material and a roster of guest royalty befitting the Queen of the Blues. Kicking things off with the fiery "Save Your Breath," Taylor keeps the temperature high with swaggering originals like the stop-start "Don't Let Me Catch You (With Your Drawers Down)" and the gutbucket blues "Ernestine" (featuring Johnnie Johnson's supple piano playing). The most impressive self-penned number is "The Man Next Door," a duet with Keb' Mo' with a stripped-down arrangement featuring a reigned-in vocal turn by Taylor goosed along by Mo's twangy National Steel guitar and wailing harmonica.
Elsewhere, the Queen mixes it up with young hotshot Kenny Wayne Shepherd (a searing cover of Melissa Etheridge's "Bring Me Some Water") and meets up with regal counterpart B.B. King (the crackling "Blues Hotel"). Taylor also has fun leisurely tearing into Ray Charles's "But On The Other Hand" and maintaining her bawdy image with the no-nonsense "Keep Your Booty Out Of My Bed."
Koko Taylor is the undisputed queen of Chicago blues vocals, and this record is her first since 1993's Force of Nature. It's a characteristically well-informed tour of contemporary and electric blues, showcasing that gravelly, saucy growl that just gets more satisfying with age. Guest musicians pop up all over the record, from Kenny Wayne Shepherd's lightning guitar work on Melissa Etheridge's "Bring Me Some Water" to B.B. King's more laid-back riffs on "Blues Hotel." Johnnie Johnson, Keb' Mo', and Taylor's typical cast of stellar back-up musicians, including Criss Johnson on guitar, also make accomplished contributions. Taylor's own original material, here contained in a midrecord, three-song stretch, might be the album's highlight, starting with the spare "The Man Next Door," exploding into the sax-driven "Old Woman," and winding down with Matthew Skoller's soulful harmonica on "Ernestine." Investing each song with her time-tested, raspy wisdom, Taylor shows that her pipes are still, indisputably, in perfect working order.
By Matthew Cooke.
Koko Taylor's first studio album in seven years, "Royal Blue" is mostly an up-tempo set with guest appearances by men like Johnny Johnson, B.B. King, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Shepherd who contributes some scorching guitar on the Melissa Ethridge-penned hit single "Bring Me Some Water", and Kevin Moore (okay, Keb' Mo') plays gritty Delta slide guitar on a great acoustic "The Man Next Door", one of four originals penned by Taylor herself.
The overall quality of this material is very high, the production is excellent, and so is the band. Fans will not want to miss this one.
Steve Berry- Trombone
Larry Bowen- Trumpet
Mark Colby- Sax (Tenor)
Jerry DiMuzio- Sax (Alto)
Kenny Hampton- Bass
Willie Henderson- Sax (Baritone)
Criss Johnson- Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
Johnnie Johnson- Piano
Kriss T. Johnson Jr.- Drums
Keb' Mo'- Guitar (Steel), Harmonica, Vocals
B.B. King- Guitar, Vocals
Ken Saydak- Piano
Kenny Wayne Shepherd- Guitar
Matthew Skoller- Harmonica
Koko Taylor- Vocals
01. Save Your Breath 4:09
02. Hittin' On Me 3:32
03. Bring Me Some Water 5:21
04. But On The Other Hand 4:42
05. Don't Let Me Catch You With Your Drawers Down 4:12
06. Blues Hotel 4:04
07. Fuel To Burn 3:51
08. The Man Next Door 5:15
09. Old Woman 4:31
10. Ernestine 5:03
11. Keep Your Booty Out Of My Bed 4:38
12. Keep Your Mouth Shut And Your Eyes Open 3:48