Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado review…June 21, 2014…

THORBJORN RISAGER AND THE BLACK TORNADO

TOO MAY ROADS

RUF RECORDS  RUF CD 1200

IF YOU WANNA LEAVE–TOO MANY ROADS–CHINA GATE–PARADISE–DROWNING–BACKSEAT DRIVER–THROUGH THE TEARS–HIGH ROLLING–LONG FORGOTTEN TRACK–RED HOT AND BLUE–RICH MAN–PLAY ON

Guitarist, composer, and singer Thorbjorn Risager has a name we are not exactly sure how to pronounce, but, as we’ve been preaching on here for years, good blues don’t care how you say it or spell it, as long as there’s that little thing called “soul,” and Risager has got it by the boxcar-loads.  The dapper Dane already has seven albums under his belt in Europe, but, thanks to Ruf Records, his eighth, released along with his band, The Black Tornado,is entitled “Too Many Roads,” and will reach a world-wide audience.

Growing up in Denmark, Risager got the blues bug through the recordings of B. B. King, deciding that he needed that full-band horn section to bring out the authenticity of his sound.  As such, the eight-man band has been intact virtually since the beginning some ten years ago.

Risager has a huge vocal presence with an unforgettable voice.  And, the thing we admired thru repeated listenings was the fact that he and the band play to mainly European audiences, many of whom have probably never been to Memphis, the Delta, or Chicago.  Given that, he has to appeal to fans of straight-blues, blues-rock, and the James Hunter-ish soul-blues fans.  On “Too Many Roads,”  he does one helluva job closing the gap of the miles between his homeland and the sweet homeland of the blues.  The party starts with rolling-thunder guitar and hand-claps, with that big voice comin’ at you like the Wolf himself, before giving way to the punch of the full band on “If You Wanna Leave.”  “Too Many Roads” and “China Gate” are stone shots of pure Delta blues, as Risager grasps the very roots of his sound.

As the set continues, the sounds become more varied and eclectic.  A lover who’s “walked out that door” has left him “Drowning in tears,” as the arrangement layers the instruments atop each other as the song progresses.  “Through The Tears” is vintage Stax, while “Rich Man” adds to the fun of the whole affair, with its Sousaphone-bass lines and nod to Dixieland.

We had two favorites, too.  You know what’s on his mind as he begs his lover with “a sad look on your pretty face” to “let me be your Backseat Driver, and take you to the places I know.”  And, the set closes with Emil Balsgaard blastin’ the 88’s just like Fats and Little Richard possessed over Thorbjorn’s vocal  on “Play On, ’cause I don’t need nothin’ but these rhythm and blues!”

Heineken Brewing Company, if you are listening, please give Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado their own commercial, and let “Red Hot And Blue” or “High Rolling” play in the background.  With those hip, killer horns and beats and that huge vocal presence, you could make him into a household name much like what happened with Clairy Brown.  In the meantime, enjoy “Too Many Roads”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

 

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