Carmen Grillo review…May 8, 2014…

CARMEN GRILLO

A DIFFERENT WORLD

BIG SURPRISE MUSIC

COME AND GONE–A REAL MOTHER FOR YA–I GOT THE SAUCE–TRYIN’ TO MAKE IT HAPPEN–PROTOTYPE–A DIFFERENT WORLD–TRANSATLANTIC BOOGIE–SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS–THE NATURE OF THE BEAST–EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT–RIVER OF MOLTEN ROCK–YOU’RE THE ONE

For several years, guitarist Carmen Grillo was the driving force behind one of the Bay Area’s best-known groups, Tower Of Power.  Now, he holds court with another of San Fran’s legendary outfits, Sons Of Champlin, but has still found the time to release a fine solo effort, still utilizing that horn-fueled, soul-blues formula that was so successful with Tower Of Power.  It is entitled “A Different World,” and contains twelve cuts that show Carmen’s diverse and sensitive ways with a lyric, as well as his unique, jazz-inflected instrumental stylings.  Plus, it hooks him up with some of the hottest session cats on the planet to complete the band’s big sound.

It takes a confident soul to tackle Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “A Real Mother For Ya,” but Carmen really captures that song’s lowdown, funky groove.  “Tryin’ To Make It Happen” follows a man’s attempt to salvage a love affair, even tho “she never gave a damn.”  To us, the arrangement and backing chorus gave this one a good ole Steely Dan vibe.  There are also four outstanding instrumentals, too, where Carmen’s guitar is stretched-out and firing on all cylinders, and one, “Prototype,” features the great Tom Scott on sax.

Carmen has some tough views on today’s society, too.  On the uptown strut of the title cut, we find out that the solution to today’s problems “won’t be found in Washington, D. C.”  The minor-key slow-burn of “Sad State Of Affairs” hits the nail on the head, as we are no longer “living in the land of milk and honey.’  “The Nature Of The Beast” prepares us for the Apocalypse, that’s gonna “shake you like an earthquake,’ altho Carmen sings these verboten lyrics over a lively, New Orleans-styled second-line rhythm, and features harp from Curt Campbell.

Our favorite was an easy choice, too.  Carmen captures a shot of the swagger of SRV in the braggadocio-filled roadhouse boogie of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”

Carmen Grillo is a hugely-gifted artist whose creativity and great music-making continues to grow whether in a band or solo setting.  “A Different World” has wide-ranging appeal for all types of blues fans!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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