Ronnie Earl And The Broadcasters review….November 19, 2017..

RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS

THE LUCKIEST MAN

STONY PLAIN RECORDS   SPCD 1396

AIN’T THAT LOVING YOU–SOUTHSIDE STOMP–DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY–JIM’S SONG–HEARTBREAK (IT’S HURTIN’ ME)–HOWLIN’ BLUES–NEVER GONNA BREAK MY FAITH–LONG LOST CONVERSATION–SWEET MISS VEE–BLUES FOR MAGIC SAM–SO MANY ROADS–YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS

As a guitarist, Ronnie Earl is one of the most versatile and well-respected on the planet.  Since 1983, he has released a total of 25 albums,  11 for Holger Petersen’s Stony Plain Records.  The latest, “The Luckiest Man,” continues Ronnie’s penchant for albums that include his love for his “mother music,” which is traditional blues, along with forays into gospel, soul, and jazz.  With this album also comes a touch of sadness, as the long-time, beloved bass player for this band, Jim Mouradian,  passed away after a show back in January.  It’s one of Jim’s fond sayings that serves as the album’s title.  He’d always say, “I’m the luckiest man you know—and I don’t even know who you know!”

That spirit runs through this album, and there are numerous highlights.  Leading off is Diane Blue’s jazzy vocal over a swingin’ arrangement of  the Don Robey/Bobby Bland chestnut, “Ain’t That Loving You.”  She keeps that jazzy groove rollin’ with “Heartbreak (It’s Hurtin’ Me),” this one featuring fine keys work from Dave Limina.

It wouldn’t be a Ronnie Earl And The Broadcasters album without some cool, bluesy instrumentals.  Dave’s on acoustic piano this time as Ronnie’s guitar rides the rails for “Howlin’ Blues,” and everyone, including the horn section, gets their collective West Side groove on with “Blues For Magic Sam.”

The set’s most poignant moments served as our favorites.  Ronnie wrote the reverent, pastoral instrumental,  “Song For Jim,”  for his fallen comrade, and he uses a  layered, acoustic/electric guitar arrangement over Diane’s heartfelt-yet-chilling vocals in Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy in this land.”  And, a slew of former Broadcasters from those early-80’s recordings, including Sugar Ray Norcia, (on vocal and harp), Anthony Geraci, Monster Mike Welch, Neil Gouvin, and Mudcat Ward guest on the ten-minute, slow-blues of “Long Lost Conversation.”

Ronnie Earl And The Broadcasters have more shades of blue in “The Luckiest Man” than Tom Noll used in his painting of Ronnie that serves as the album’s cover art.  This set serves as a loving tribute to Jim Mouradian, and fortifies Ronnie’s resolve to live with faith and gratitude,  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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