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Phat Blues Music

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Album Review

On his debut full-length album, Kelly Bell covers all the bases the he tackles in his live shows, and in the process attempts to master every possible genre and subgenre of post-war black music: blues, funk, and soul. The influences of hip-hop are found in every song, so there was no need for Bell to forge headlong in that direction, though given his enthusiasm for every hip form of urban music, it wouldn't be a surprise if he did. Across 19 tracks Bell leads his versatile band through party anthems ("Homegrown"), lowdown a cappella soul ("Losing Myself"), and some convincing acoustic blues ("Rollin' and Tumblin'"), in addition to generic, throwaway funk ("Say One Thing") and vapid attempts at a Sly Stone peace-and-love vibe ("One World"). Interspersed are some instrumental jams and a few gimmicky spoken word segments; Bell is on the run from a woman and calls his mother ("Callin' Ma Bell"). He takes listeners inside the seedy nightclub underworld, where fellow Fowl Records artist Mary Prankster recites a sultry ode to a singer on "The Barfly And...," which introduces "The Bluesman," with Bell portraying himself as a southside Chicago belter. Philadelphia blues/hip-hop artist G. Love even joins in on one tune. Local luminaries Deanna Bogart and Gibb Droll and the horn section from All Mighty Senators also sit in. It seems the Bell orbit includes more than just the party people at Baltimore-area colleges. But while his enthusiasm for everything blues and soul under the sun is impressive, he ends up diluting the stew on Phat Blues Music by trying to master all the ingredients. In many ways it is forgivable. Even though Bell is a bona fide regional star, many decent local bands don't know how or when they will be able to release new material. Perhaps sensing this, Bell opted to get it all out while he could.

Customer Reviews


Kelly Bell Band is genius!


This album has become a classic in the collection, it's one you listen to cover to cover and never get tired of hearing. Download if for yourself and see.

Buy it!!

Amazing local band with amazing energy!! I'm obsessed with this album & have passed it on to many others who are now equally obsessed!! You will not be disappointed! :)


Born: Baltimore, MD

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Fronted by an imposingly large, dreadlocked singer, the Kelly Bell Band secured a place as the Baltimore area's premier live party band by the end of the 1990s. Formed in 1995 in a city with no less than eight colleges or universities, Bell's good-time blend of rock and funk found a ready, and usually intoxicated, audience. The band's first gigs included backing up Bo Diddley. A Baltimore-area native, Bell has aided his band's reputation by forging a major public presence working as a mentor to...
Full Bio
Phat Blues Music, Kelly Bell Band
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Customer Ratings