The Love Light Orchestra review…December 4, 2017….

THE LOVE LIGHT ORCHESTRA

FEATURING JON NEMETH

BLUE BARREL RECORDS   BBR 319952

SEE WHY I LOVE YOU–BAD BREAKS–I’VE BEEN WRONG SO LONG–IT’S YOUR VOODOO WORKING–SOMETIMES–WHAT ABOUT LOVE–POVERTY–LONESOME AND HIGH–SINGIN FOR MY SUPPER–THIS LITTLE LOVE OF MINE–PLEASE SEND ME SOMEONE TO LOVE–LOVE AND HAPPINESS

As a lifelong resident of Tennessee, when discussing what is referred to in musical circles as “the Memphis sound,” several images come to mind.  Certainly the Sun/Presley/rockabilly sounds from 706 Union Ave. are undeniable, as are the deeply-soulful music that emanated from the Stax and Hi studios.  And, there’s another category of horn-driven R & B that was played in the clubs up and down Beale, (as well as down on Jefferson Street here in Nashville) in the Fifties and Sixties.  In Memphis, it was popularized by artists such as Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, and B. B.  Obviously, it takes a vocalist with a huge voice to pull it all together, and, for the latest release from Blue Barrel Records, “The Love Light Orchestra” features one of the best there is–two-time Blues Music award winner,John Nemeth.  Along with guitarist Joe Restivo and trumpet man-arranger Marc Franklin, they drive this swingin’ ten-piece outfit thru twelve cuts of pure, unadulterated, joyfully-rockin’ R & B.  Nine are vintage covers, and the three originals are written within the context of the big band sound.

One of those originals, from Joe Restivo, leads off, as John testifies the many virtues of a good lover, “See Why I Love You.”  The horn arrangements and the percussion patterns give “This Little Love Of Mine” and “It’s Your Voodoo Working” a New Orleans vibe, while John brings to life the plaintive Percy Mayfield classic, “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” through his beautiful vocal take.

Every cut is a winner, but we had two favorites.  First up, John gives a cool, upper-register read of Freddie King’s “mama, mama, What About Love?”  And, the set closes with a brilliant re-working of Al Green’s “Love And Happiness,” turning this classic into a toe-tapping shuffle!

Altho there is plenty of guitar work herein, the emphasis is on the sax, horns, and powerhouse vocals from John.  Recorded live at the tiny DKDC Bar in midtown Memphis (sure hope they had a dance floor!), John Nemeth and “The Love Light Orchestra” successfully meld the uptown swing of vintage R & B with the gritty side of straight blues, and John keeps the spirit of this music alive in what is a “must-hear” set!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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