Billy Thompson review…October 18, 2013…

BILLY THOMPSON

FRIEND

SOUL STEW RECORDS  606

SOLDIER OF MISFORTUNE–GARDEN–INTERLUDE–FARMER KENNY–HALF A MAN–MANY FACES–THEN I, MY LOVE–AIN’T BUT ONE–GOT TO BE DID–AIN’T NO SUNSHINE–WHILE THE WORLD’S WINDING DOWN

 

Billy Thompson sings in “Soldier Of Misfortune” that he’s a “seasoned veteran who’s seen many a campaign,” and, musically speaking, that’s the real truth.  He’s captivated audiences with his soulful singing and guitar playing all over the world, and, for his latest release, “Friend,” he wanted to re-create a live feel on the album.  Basic tracks were cut at an old grist mill, giving the proper ambience.  The eleven cuts present Billy at his best, delivering a good gumbo of blues, funk, and New orleans-based R & B.  Add to that the incredible lineup of guest musicians on board, and this is one sweet ride across the musical landscape.

Check out Little Feat’s Bill Payne on piano as Billy’s slide rides all over that Big Easy groove of  “Garden,” resurfacing later on the second-line pattern of “Satisfied,” finding Billy lookin’ to hook up with his “sweet angel” and “enjoy the ride!!”  “Farmer Kenny is a mid-tempo shuffle with a funky horn section and a message–do not take life for granted, ’cause you never know when you’ll be like Kenny and “buy the farm.”

“Interlude” is a strong, reverse-look at infidelity, from the man’s point of view, as Billy finds himself the one “played like a master plays his instrument,” as the minor-key slow-burn of this one is augmented by Billy’s flourishes of stinging notes that feel his pain.  He visits vintage soul on the plaintive “Half A Man,” and on the uplifting title cut where Billy vows to “always be there for you.”  He closes the set with a too-cool-for-school shuffle, “While The World’s Winding Down,” with great guitar and organ interplay between Billy and Phantom Blues Band keyboard whiz Mike Finnigan.  It’ll remind many listeners of those great cuts by Albert Collins and the Icebreakers.

We had two favorites, too.  The funk is in full bloom on the topical tale of what’s in one’s heart being more important than the color of one’s skin,” Many Faces.”  And, Billy pays a sweet tribute to Jimi, for, we all know, “there Ain’t But One voodoo chile,” and name-checks all the greats from Eric to Freddie and Muddy to Buddy.

Billy Thompson is one of those rare men who can play anything you want to hear any way you want to hear it.  That versatility is what makes “Friend” such an enjoyable listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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