Duke Robillard review April 14, 2013…

THE DUKE ROBILLARD BAND

INDEPENDENTLY BLUE

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1364

I WOULDN’T-A DONE THAT–BELOW ZERO–STAPLED TO THE CHICKEN’S BACK–PATROL WAGON BLUES–LAURENE–MOONGATE–I’M STILL LAUGHING–STROLLIN’ WITH LOWELL AND B. B.–YOU WON’T EVER–THIS MAN, THIS MONSTER–GROOVIN’ SLOW–IF THIS IS LOVE

Duke Robillard founded the seminal jump-blues group Roomful Of Blues back in 1967.  Since that time, he has become one of the most respected guitarists, vocalists, composers, and producers of any genre’, and has recorded several highly-acclaimed albums under his own name.  The latest of these, for his long-time label, Stony Plain, is “Independently Blue,” a dozen cuts that were either Duke and/or guest guitarist Monster Mike Welch originals, or penned by old friend Al Basile.  And, there is one sweet cover of a Red Allen tune from the 1920’s!

Over the course of this set, one can see from where its title evolved.  Duke’s solo career has always taken turns toward old-school R & B, Fifties-inspired rock, and even forays into jazz.  On this album, we are treated to several fine examples of his varied taste in blues.

Everything gets going with the mid-tempo “I Wouldn’t-A Done That,” followed by a clever, country-blues look at today’s sorry economy, where it is easy to find oneself  “Below Zero.”  Both of these cuts are Al Basile originals, and Duke unleashes some fine lead work throughout.  The Red Allen cover is a decidedly Dixieland affair, complete with banjo and clarinet, and is a minor-key ode to that ol’ Black Mariah, “Patrol Wagon Blues.” “You Won’t Ever” is a Motown-ish shot of neo-soul, while Duke does his share of blues braggin’ in “Groovin’ Slow.”

There are several other noteworthy cuts, also.  “Laurene,” written for Duke’s wife, follows a Chuck Berry riff pattern to extol her many virtues.  “This Man, This Monster’ and “Stapled To The Chicken’s Back” find Duke in some good-natured “dueling” with Mike Welch on two fine instrumentals.

For us, there were two outstanding cuts.  The wistful, ethereal “Moongate” was inspired by a trip Duke took to a 19TH Century mansion in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.  And, “Strollin’ With Lowell And B. B.” is a quite impressive instrumental.  It showcases the Duke’s ability to authentically recreate the style of a particular artist, in this case the West-Coast swing of Lowell Fulson and the Lucille-styled leads of B. B. King.

 

Duke Robillard has always followed his own Muse when it comes to making music.  “Independently Blue” is no exception, and gives fans an exciting listening experience!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

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