Sugar Ray And The Bluetones review…August 19, 2014…

SUGAR RAY AND THE BLUETONES

LIVING TEAR TO TEAR

SEVERN RECORDS

RAT TRAP–HERE WE GO–THINGS COULD BE WORSE–LIVING TEAR TO TEAR–MISERY–IT’S NEVER AS BAD AS IT LOOKS–SHORT RIBS–I DREAMED LAST NIGHT–NINETY NINE–OUR STORY–HUNGRY BUT HAPPY–NOTHING BUT THE DEVIL

For their latest CD on the Severn label, Sugar Ray (Norcia) And The Bluetones come out swingin’, with one of the toughest, hardest-rockin’ sets they have waxed in some time.  Sugar Ray’s vocals and harp are in top form, and his four-piece crew of “usual suspects” sets up a monster groove throughout these twelve cuts.  Speaking of, “Monster” Mike Welch is on guitar, Anthony Geraci is on keys, Mudcat Ward is on bass, and Neil Gouvin is on drums.  These guys have worked with Ray many times before, and they know just what he’s after to bring out the best in these dazzling arrangements.

The party jump-starts with the blistering “Rat Trap,” where Ray tries to avoid the bait of a lover, noting that “it’s always the second rat that gets away with the cheese!”  Mike’s tremolo-like guitar over Ray’s harp give this one a decidedly-Fifties feel.  That same vibe runs thru Ray’s poignant song devoted to his wife, “Our Story,” as he proudly proclaims her to be “the only one for me.”

Ray gets back into the swing of things with a sweet read of Rice Miller’s “Ninety Nine,” with acoustic piano from Anthony.  The set closes with Ray’s echo-effect vocals telling the tale of a no-good lover, “Nothing But The Devil,” who’s so bad he’s about “to break out just like the measles and get all over you!”

As a veteran of Roomful Of Blues as well as his own solo projects, Ray offers up some sage advice on a couple of cuts that served as our favorites.  Ray breaks out the chromatic on a tale that teaches us to stop complaining,  because, “for every bad, Things Could Be Worse.”  A cool song that could easily serve as Ray’s autobiography lets us know that, for a bluesman, “It’s Never As Bad As It Looks, and never as good as it seems!”

Sugar Ray and The Bluetones continue to bring the best in harp-driven, swingin’ blues to fans all over the world.  “Living Tear To Tear” keeps that tradition alive and well!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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