Royal Blue is the first Alligator release from Koko Taylor since 1993's Grammy nominated Force of Nature. This is a mainly up-tempo set with excellent support from several guest appearances by B.B. King, Johnny Johnson, Ken Saydak, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd who contributes some scorching guitar on the Melissa Ethridge-penned hit "Bring Me Some Water." Taylor not only co-produced this release but wrote four of the 12 tracks, including the acoustic "The Man Next Door." On this track, the combination of Koko's passionate voice with Keb Mo's gritty Delta slide guitar makes you wish she would move further in this direction on future releases. Royal Blue proves Koko Taylor is still the undisputed queen of the blues.
This is tassel-twirlin’, butt-shakin’ Texas strip joint blues. Sweetman’s raw, in-your-face tenor sax leads a down-and-dirty Austin R&B band (including veterans of the Fabulous Thunderbirds)…..
Bill Johnson contributes eight originals to his Still Blue, each one a fine example of a contemporary blues song, not merely a retread of a familiar 12 bar theme, and each sung in his evocative voice. The variety of approaches, from the sneaky slide on “Another One” to the crisp lead guitar midway between Cray and Knopfler on “Habitual Survivor” is invigorating. Very hip phrases and a hard-luck lyric make the minor-key “Half The Man” stand out. Johnson shows he can reliably deliver straight blues on his shuffle “Old Les Paul Guitar” and three well-chosen covers from Slim Harpo, T-Bone Walker, and Howlin’ Wolf. Lee Roy Parnell’s roadhouse rocker “Red Hot” rounds out the set. A gem of an album!–by Tom Hyslop
Oakland/San Francisco-area bluesman Tucker sings in a manner undeniably derivative of Bobby "Blue" Bland, and he stands in this style quite strongly. A horn section adds extra juice, but it is the pianist/organist Bill Heid who really provides the spark that powers this full bodied authentic blues machine….
Saxman Jackie McLean's explorations of free jazz and the avant-garde were still a couple of years away when he cut this Blue Note album in 1960, but that doesn't mean CAPUCHIN SWING is a by-the-numbers affair by any means. Though its name isn't generally invoked when the tally of hard bop's greatest albums is made, it stands up alongside anything Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, et al were doing at the time. With trumpeter Blue Mitchell proving to be a perfectly matched sparring partner, McLean pushes bop harmonies and structures nearly to the breaking point with his intense improvisations on a batch of original compositions with a couple of outside tunes thrown in. Throughout, McLean stirs the sonic pot in such a fiery fashion, you can just tell something's cooking that he hasn't quite served up yet.