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That's Right!

Roomful of Blues

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Album Review

Mentioning that little has changed for a band in nearly 35 years might sound like a criticism, but forRoomful of Blues, that's actually a compliment. After more personal shifting than Savoy Brown and with saxist Rich Lataille as the only remaining original member, the Rhode Island-based jump blues outfit still swings with the passion and precision they exhibited three decades ago. On their 17th album (but first for Alligator Records) they have swapped frontmen/singers yet again, with harmonica ace Mark DuFresne now ably filling that position. Still, the band retains and even enhances the buoyant, horn-injected sound that has always been their trademark. From the rollicking boogie-woogie of Smiley Lewis' "Shame, Shame, Shame" to the big-band attack of "You're Driving Me Crazy" made popular by Benny Goodman and Billie Holiday, to Big Joe Turner's "Lipstick, Powder & Paint," this version of the band hasn't lost an ounce of their drive. If anything, That's Right is quintessential Roomful of Blues, with zippy hipster jazz instrumentals like Arthur Prysock's "2 Point 8" — a showcase for the horn section — that are as lively and essential as anything they have waxed. Veteran guitarist Chris Vachon is attaining the chops, if not the reputation, of previous Roomful axemen such as Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl. His short, succinct solos stab between the horns and DuFresne's husky vocals. Longtime fans will gobble this up, but even first timers interested in hearing a solid Roomful disc would do well to select That's Right as their primary Roomful of Blues purchase.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in Providence, RI

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Over the course of their decades-long existence, Roomful of Blues effectively became a franchise unto themselves, built more on a brand-name collective identity than on the voices of the myriad individual members who kept the band a smoothly humming machine. Describing Roomful of Blues that way, however, gives short shrift to the many accomplished musicians who have emerged from the band's ranks over the years: guitarists Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl, organist Ron Levy, pianist Al Copley, singer...
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That's Right!, Roomful of Blues
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