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Hell or High Water

Tinsley Ellis

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Album Review

Undeterred by the lukewarm response to his last Capricorn album (due to the bad timing of it being released mere weeks before the company folded in 2000), Atlanta-based blues rocker Tinsley Ellis signed with his third label, Telarc, in early 2002 and churned out another signature effort. Bolstered by his roaring guitar shooting fiery licks, gruff singing, and no-frills approach, Ellis adds a hearty R&B edge to his music. Shortening his solos (only the slow burning eight-minute "Feelin' No Pain" stretches out into epic length), the songs never feel like vehicles for Ellis' obvious six-string prowess. Instead, the Steely Dan "Pretzel Logic" riff inspired "All Rumors Are True" and the magnificent "Mystery to Me" with its genuine soul vibe and warm electric piano set up a groove and ride it. Ellis revisits his louder, crunchier past with the wailing intro to "All I Can Do" and the ZZ Top (circa mid-'70s) swirl of "Ten Year Day," a song inspired by the events of September 11, 2001. Atlanta vocalist Donna Hopkins contributes hard-hitting backing vocals worthy of Bonnie Bramlett on three tracks, further pushing these songs into soulful territory. While the "Bell Bottom Blues"-styled ballad of "Stuck in Love" is a little too reminiscent of Clapton's writing and guitar style, as is the wah-wah churning "Strange Brew"-isms of "All I Can Do," Ellis doesn't generally ape other guitarists. Rather, he concocts his own combination of Freddie King, Peter Green, and Memphis influences. The closing James Taylor-ish acoustic ballad seems out of place with the rest of the sturdy performances, such as the strutting title track, but shows a tender side to the tough, heartfelt blues and rock that dominate this engaging album.

Customer Reviews

Tinsley Ellis hell or High Water

He is an outstanding Blues guitarists not as well respected & should be!
StandaBlues,Greek,Gospel,R&R-HvyRk&all real music lovin'man

OH MY GOSH!!!

What an INCREDIBLE piece of work!!!
I knew this a decade ago, but I just re-bought it, and man-o-man, what a gift he is to all of us!
I had the privilege of knowing him around the time he recorded this :)
Being friends with Donna Hopkins (singing back-ups)(get her CD, "Free to Go")
I saw him innumerable times, and WOW!!!
I've seen most of the greats, but I've never seen the Magic he can work on his gee-tar.
Thank you Tinsley

Biography

Born: June 4, 1957 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: Blues

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

A hard-rocking, high-voltage blues guitarist most often compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tinsley Ellis is hardly one of the legions of imitators that comparison might imply. Schooled in a variety of Southern musical styles, Ellis draws not only from fiery Vaughan-style blues-rock, but also Texas bluesmen like Freddie King and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the soulful blues of B.B. King, the funky grit of Memphis soul, and numerous other electric bluesmen. Ellis has been praised in many quarters for...
Full Bio
Hell or High Water, Tinsley Ellis
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