Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Ronnie EARL and Duke ROBILLARD – The Duke Meets The Earl 2005
The Duke Meets the Earl seems like an obvious album, pairing two of New England's finest contemporary blues guitarists, Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl, who both share the same sort of hard, clear tone in their playing (Earl actually replaced Robillard in Roomful of Blues when the latter left the group for a solo career). For Earl, who has been working in a kind of jazz blues hybrid style in recent years, it marks a return to straight blues, and with guests like Jimmy McGriff and Mighty Sam McClain aboard on select tracks, The Duke Meets the Earl has the feel of a super session. Throughout, Earl's guitar is featured in the left channel and Robillard's in the right, leading to some wonderful guitar dialogues, particularly on an epic, nearly 16-minute-long version of Walter Price's "My Tears." Another extended workout occurs on "A Soul That's Been Abused," an Earl original, which features McClain on vocals and stretches out to just over 13 minutes. McGriff brings his Hammond B-3 magic to two cuts, Eddie Taylor's "Lookin' for Trouble" and B.B. King's "I Need You So Bad," while the B-3 part on "A Soul That's Been Abused" is handled by Dave Limina. Other highlights include covers of T-Bone Walker's "Two Bones and a Pick," Magic Sam's "What Have I Done Wrong," and Earl's smooth, clear slide style on another original, "Zeb's Thing." With only eight tracks, but clocking in at over 70 minutes, The Duke Meets the Earl gives these two fine guitarists plenty of room to talk to each other, and the result is a classy set of no-frills contemporary blues, with just the slightest hint of jazz to keep it all smooth.
By Steve Leggett. AMG.
Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl are among blues guitar's hottest pistols, but their first studio union is no showdown. Although Robillard is steeped in all aspects of technique and Earl is a pure "soul" player, their styles overlap in the Texas and Chicago schools, which grant both giants plenty of space for elegant and biting single-note solos, daredevil string-bending, and chugging rhythms. Robillard sings two numbers and "Mighty" Sam McClain, whose red-clay voice is the perfect foil for their emotional fretwork, guests on Earl's heartbroken epic "A Soul That's Been Abused." The real mojo, however, is in the instrumentals, where these virtuosos who emerged from the New England scene to achieve worldwide acclaim maintain a beatific dialogue. They both swing like T-Bone Walker on "Two Bones and a Pick" and trade sliding chords and slide guitar licks on "Zeb's Thing," which dips into down-home Mississippi grit. The highlight is "My Tears," on which Robillard sings sad and dirty, Earl turns sustained notes into Zen koans, and both players stretch their flair for dynamics and brilliant, unhurried, lyrical playing to its limit. Fans of blues guitar need to hear this album.
By Ted Drozdowski. AMG.
Ronnie Earl- (Guitar, Slide Guitar)
Duke Robillard- (Vocals, Guitar)
Mighty Sam McClain- (Vocals)
Matt McCabe- (Piano)
Dave Limina, Jimmy McGriff- (Hammond b-3 Organ)
Rod Carey- (Bass)
Jesse Williams- (Bass, Bass Guitar)
Mark Teixeira- (Drums)
01.West Side Shuffle 7:46
02.Two Bones & A Pick 8:08
03.My Tears 15:58
04.Lookin For Trouble 4:29
05.What Have I Done Wrong 6:45
06.Zeb’s Thing 7:32
07.I Need You So Bad 8:16
08.A Soul That’s Been Abused 13.08