From Blues in Britain Issue 119 – November 2011 www.bluesinbritain.org
Earl Green & The Right Time – Live At Brontë Blues Club
The Right Time has been Earl’s main outlet for some years now: the band consists of Earl on vocals, Les Back and Ron Warshow on guitars, Mike Paice on sax and harp, Emil Engström on bass and Daniel Strittmatter on drums.
The Brontë Blues Club clearly did a terrific job in enabling this recording. The sound is crystal clear, the audience enthusiastic, but respectfully silent during the songs, leaving their applause and shouts of encouragement for the appropriate moments between songs. I imagine that the band played more than the twelve tunes on the CD but at a running time over seventy minutes the CD represents good value.
The material comes from a wide variety of sources, mainly the greats of the blues, both ‘classic’ and contemporary, so we get T Bone Walker and Elmore James as well as Duke Robillard and Rick Estrin in the set. The set is well organised, with plenty of variety in mood and pace. For instance, opener “T Bone Shuffle” is followed by the soulful Little Milton tune “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” and then Percy Mayfield’s “Danger Zone”. Earl’s vocals are outstanding and all three front line players take superb solos.
After that initial trio of tunes, Les Back switches to slide for “Done Somebody Wrong”, the stop-start rhythm being assisted by Mike Paice’s harp. “That’s Better For Me” was a tune I did not know, the shortest track on the CD and something of a jump blues tune. However, the next one was certainly more familiar, a stunning version of “Ask Me About Nothin’ But The Blues”, best known from Bobby Bland’s version. I have to say that Earl’s vocal here is outstanding and you could hear a pin drop as he expresses the anguish and pain of the lyric. The tune is an extended version, so we also get a sax feature from Mike Paice who seems to have caught the tone of despair from the lyrics.
After all that angst the band sensibly opts to lighten the mood with Rosco Gordon’s “No More Doggin’”, a song written in an era before sex became observational rather than participatory! That familiar loping rhythm carries us along with Mike Paice’s harp supporting and both guitarists cutting loose, Les Back again on slide. Keeping up the pace the band brings us “I Don’t Believe”, another one from the Bobby Bland songbook. Mike Paice is back on sax and Ron Warshow’s guitar underpins the vocal lines very well. “It’s My Own Fault” is credited to John Lee Hooker on the CD but although JLH did do a song by that name, the version here is far closer to the BB King song, not least in the lovely plucked guitar solo in the middle of the song.
Moving to some more recent material, the band tackles Rick Estrin’s “Living Hand To Mouth”, a jaunty tune featuring Mike Paice’s harp and some tasty guitar. Duke Robillard’s “Anything It Takes” is a swinging number with more impressive sax, as well as a ringing solo by Les Back, who really swings here. Closing the CD is an extended version of Deadric Malone’s “Don’t Cry No More”, another Bobby Bland song which has teases of Gershwin’s “Summertime” and Wilson Pickett’s “Land Of A Thousand Dances” woven into the song. A storming sax solo graces the middle section. The final minute of the track is applause from the club members, no doubt hoping for a further encore, only to be halted by the familiar tones of host Michael Ford who warns that the village hall committee might close them down if they go on any later! If every gig at Laycock is half as good as this one sounds, the locals have a jewel on their hands. I look forward to coming up there one day soon to catch a gig. Rating: 10 – John Mitchell