Roomful Of Blues is celebrating 45 years of performing blues. As a band, they have a pedigree most bands could only dream of. Their roster of members and former members reads like a who’s who of top tier musicians, including Lou Ann Barton, Curtis Salgado, Al Copley, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, and Travis Colby. Founded in 1967 by Duke Robillard and Al Copley, they played hardcore Chicago blues, and later settled into articulating the nuances of Jump blues and Swing, even performing with Count Basie, the master of these blues forms. They are an institution; a standard if you will. The great thing about this band is that they never rest on their laurels, they are always learning and growing, and they do not stagnate. Their performances never grow stale, and they deliver their “best show” every time they take the stage.
45 Live is a culmination of sorts for the band. As this is a live band in the truest sense of the word, 45 Live is a real treat. Issued on the Alligator Records label, it is produced and mixed by Chris Vachon. Recorded live over the course of several nights at the Ocean Mist in Matunuck, RI, the album showcases the band at their very best. These enthusiastic performances are full of life, and their obvious love of the blues. For those who don’t know, the current lineup is Phil Pemberton – vocals, Chris Vachon – guitars, and Rich Lataille – tenor/alto sax, clarinet. Joining the fray are Mark Earley – baritone and tenor sax, Doug Wollverton – trumpet, John Turner – bass, Rusty Scott – keyboards, and Chris Rivelli on drums.
This entire album is a great listen. The recording and mix is so well executed, the presentation of the performances here is elegant, and the sound is rich and clear, with an almost 3D depth! “It All Went Down The Drain” is full of texture and really swings in a joyful way. The piano and guitar fills weaving in and out of the melody are just right, and the vocal is the cherry on top. “Easy Baby” is moody, slow and bluesy, with a great vocal, sweet guitar solo, and the sound is full of depth. Beautiful cut. “That’s Right” is a Jump blues, straight out of the Louis Jordan playbook. It jumps, it swings, and will have you on your feet, moving to that crazy beat. The band really shines here! “You Don’t Know” is a fine shuffle, delivered with spirit and finesse. The piano, guitar, and horn work is marvelous! “Somebody’s Got To Go” harkens back to a smokey NOLA piano bar with its crying horn work, beautiful guitar chording, and of course, fine piano work.
If you are a Roomful Of Blues fan, this album is a must for your collection. For the rest of you blues lovers, this is a must for your record shelf too. This album is brilliant, and the playing here is scintillating. Pick this album up yesterday.