Larry Garner is one of the blues' great unknown treasures. His songs and vocals are witty, intelligent and sophisticated. He has a great sense of humor and always features a dynamite band to back up his searing guitar. Critics and fans alike love his top-shelf material. "A Driving Woman" jumpstarts the CD with Garner's hot electric guitar at the fore. He's got a high-maintenance woman driving him crazy. "Do Your Personal Thing" is a typical song, bopping along and spiced with Garner's personal observations on daily life. The Angels of Background Vocals add a great touch… It is another masterfully crafted collection of sophisticated modern blues songs…
Well, I have had a while to listen to "once upon the blues" several times now and I am pleased to report that it is an absolute cracker (very good….).
I just love the lazy guitar intro to the first track "where blue turns to black" - lovely understated playing, probably one of my favourite tracks.
The second is about a pet hate of Larry as well as me - "slower traffic keep right". Wherever you are, on Highway, Motorway, Autostrada, Autobahn or Autoroute it seems to be the same the world over - slow traffic sitting in the fast/overtaking lane. Larry will have to change from right to left when he does this number in England!…..
It is impossible to discuss Larry Garner's history without mentioning the European connection. Although the bluesman is from Baton Rouge, LA, Europe is where he enjoyed his first taste of commercial acceptance. The singer/guitarist recorded for a British label (JSP Records) before he recorded for any American companies, and the late '90s and early '00s found him recording for the German Ruf label. This Ruf release documents a 2001 gig at a club in Germany, where Garner provides an inspired dose of electric Louisiana blues and often detours into Louisiana soul…..
This was supposed to be Garner's follow-up album to his breakthrough third album, You Need to Live a Little, released in 1994. Due to contract problems, however, it never saw an American release until 1999. Like its predecessor, Garner's brand of blues moves between Excello swamp blues and more soulful, contemporary styles with a strong songwriting sense ingrained in all of it…..
On his second JSP release, Garner dishes up a variety of blues, steeped in the post-war tradition but reflecting contemporary influences. He successfully reprises his funky "Shak Bully." "She Should've Been Back" is a soul blues, while "Love Her with a Feeling" is a step-by-step narrative a la Albert Collins…..
Although his songwriting slips a little here ("PMS" was an idea that should have never been executed), Standing Room Only confirms Larry Garner's position as a tough blues guitarist and dynamic performer. Despite a few weak cuts, there's still a number of very strong songs, and Garner's flair for gritty, swampy performances makes the album quite enjoyable — it just falls a little short of the high quality of his previous masterworks.