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Deep In America / Larger Than Life, Vol. 2

The Hollywood Blue Flames

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Album Review

A tasteful and elegantly modern blues band with jazzy overtones, the Hollywood Flames came together in 1975 on the West Coast as the Hollywood Fats Band, led by guitar phenom Michael “Hollywood Fats” Mann and featuring Larry Taylor on bass and drums, Richard Innes on piano and Hammond B-3, Fred Kaplan on piano and guitar, and harmonica whiz and vocalist Al Blake. The group specialized in a kind of informed update of the classic electric blues bands of the 1950s, but were also capable of eerily accurate acoustic versions of old country blues standards from the 1920s or shifting into New Orleans piano romps, keeping traditions alive while giving them a sonic push forward at the same time. Mann’s death in 1986 brought the band to a close until 2005 when the original members reunited as the Hollywood Blue Flames, this time with guitarist Kirk Fletcher aboard, and continued making vital blues music in the same vein as the original group. Deep in America is the band’s third album released under the Hollywood Blue Flames name, and while it would be wrong to say that Mann isn’t missed, Fletcher plays on these tracks like the only feasible substitute. It works, and it works for the same reason the Hollywood Fats Band worked — passion and intelligence. These guys know the history of the blues but they seem to understand the genre’s emotional center as well, with tracks like the perfectly and wearily poised “Leavin’ California,” and they also don’t forget that people need to step it up and dance — check out the easily rolling piano shuffles “Crescent City Rock” and “Hushpuppy” for proof of that. A second disc is included in this package that features vintage live cuts from the original Hollywood Fats Band — so in a way, Mann is aboard here, too.

Customer Reviews

Hollywood Blue Flames GOT DA Blues Baby!

The reliable flow and splendid technique of each band member make the first disc one of the best representations of real blues that I have heard in a long time. If that wasn’t a good enough kick in the pants disc two compiles 12 live tracks from various sources with Hollywood Fats displaying his talents on lead guitar. This serves as another example but one that gives you a snapshot in time and the evolution of a band’s sound presented on stage to an appreciative audience. As with any blues concert you will hear some well know genre standards such as “Kansas City” mixed in with the band’s original material. The live recording is good just lacking a bit in the finale production end of things but it still smokes and crackles with some red hot blues and dynamite guitar licks peeled off by Fats.

It seems The Hollywood Blues Flames have given us the best of both worlds on these two discs. Maybe they should have called this Deep In The Blues instead but then again if you are Deep In America then you are bound to hear the blues done right like this if you throw on this set or catch them live.

Biography

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '00s

A tasteful and intelligent modern blues band, the Hollywood Flames came together in 1975 on the West Coast as the Hollywood Fats Band, led by guitar phenom Michael “Hollywood Fats” Mann and featuring Larry Taylor on bass and drums, Richard Innes on piano and Hammond B-3, Fred Kaplan on piano and guitar, and harmonica whiz Al Blake. The group specialized in a kind of informed update of the classic electric blues bands of the 1950s, keeping the tradition alive while giving it a push forward at the...
Full Bio
Deep In America / Larger Than Life, Vol. 2, The Hollywood Blue Flames
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