New Release

REAL BLUES MAGAZINE (issue # 27 / Oct 2003)

Willie Lomax Blues Revue: Best Blues Money Can Buy (Big Boss Records)

     Consider this disc as the second chapter in the Willie Lomax/Shawn Brown Blues and Soul Crusade. The first chapter starts back in 1999 with “Ribs Are Ready” with the incredible and unprecedented musical marriage of Clarksdale, Mississippi down home Blues and Memphis classic Soul which gave the world The Best Southern Blues Album in many years but also brought to everyone’s attention the superb talents and incredible voice of Shawn Brown, the Hammond B-3 -playing gospel/soul vocalist who really stunned the music world. But, Willie Lomax isn’t content to put out good or great albums; he creates or should I say, facilitates masterpieces. “Ribs...” really blew a lot of minds and now that the world has had a chance to digest “Ribs...” (sorry, couldn’t resist) we get something equally as magnificent offered up by Lomax. In hindsight now, we know the negative state of affairs of 2000/01 would’ve ensured no matter how great “Best Blues...” is it would’ve been sucked into the Big Void of Negativity that shrouded the entire world. Now that the Sun is starting to shine again and we leave behind the Evil atmosphere of Big Brother-created mayhem, Willie Lomax’s package of magic and joy is the perfect prescription for 2003/2004. Blue skies adorn the album jacket and list of contributors is exciting and illuminating. Whilst “Ribs...” was a tribute to the great Southern Blues kings Frank Frost and Sam Carr with a decidedly Down Home Blues feel to a good portion (Lucky Peterson’s dad, James Peterson, a fine Bluesman in his own right, added vocals to 2 of the songs on “Ribs...”), Best Blues...” is strictly a Memphis affair (musician wise) with the return of Leroy Hodges and Howard Grimes, we also have one of the great Gales Bros; Eric, on guitar, world-renowned Walfredo Reyes Jr on drums, former Sly Stone sax man Jerry Martini, first-class hornman Jim Spake (baritone sax), Scott Thompson (trumpet), Neal Weinstein (bass-2 tracks) and of course the Miami-based Willie Lomax on guitar and surprise vocals (1 track) Lomax is a very interesting fellow who has a very serious purpose in life: make beautiful and compelling music which employs and promotes the talents of artists who have much to offer the world.

      Shawn Brown once again proves to be a formidable gospel-styled vocalist and a great Hammond organist whose vocal gymnastics make virtually every song he sings a standout. Title track, “Best Blues Money Can Buy” is a great one as is “TKO” and the spiritually-aimed “When The Lights Go Out” which is a plea for understanding and Brotherhood amidst all promoted hatred. Jerry Martini shows his stuff on the bump-and-grind instrumental “Blues For Ronnie” and Willie Lomax has a nice guitar solo as well, proof that he is not merely a songwriter, arranger, producer and catalystic powerhouse. “Lighten’ Up” is Willie’s very first foray into vocal land in three albums and it’s a kind of talkin’ blues that works nicely as a down-in-the-alley blues. Once again Willie Lomax drops another classy/classic production on our laps that stands out amidst the competition. Most of all, though it’s proof that you can make wonderful things happen if you have beliefs that are strong and you want to contribute something positive to this world. 5 bottles for an example of Modern R&B-drenched Blues that once again proves for one and all; “It ain’t dead yet.” We need more Willie Lomax’s (and Fred James’s and Randy Chortkoff’s...). Finally, it’s more proof as to the incredible talents of Shawn Brown, a young man with a big future.
A Grigg



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