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Rockin' Sugar Daddy

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Album Review

Kim Wilson-styled vocalist/harmonica player and songwriter Sugar Ray Norcia edges toward Fabulous Thunderbirds territory on his fourth album with his Bluetones band (and first after ending his nearly seven-year tenure with Roomful of Blues). Former T-Bird guitarist Kid Bangham is also on hand to further cement the connection, and with this album's stripped-down sound and tougher R&B approach, it's a ringer for a new release from Austin's favorite blues band. There are differences of course: Ray's band is less pounding and more subtle and swampy in their approach to blues and R&B. His harp work isn't as overdriven as Wilson's and his phrasing remains understated while distinctive in its grits-and-honey delivery, even on the album's most charging tracks. Still, anyone who is a fan of either the Fabulous Thunderbirds or Roomful's more rocking/bluesy side will certainly be attracted to this release. Covers from the catalogs of Slim Harpo ("I Got Love if You Want It"), Little Walter ("Off the Wall"), and Bobby "Blue" Bland (a sizzling, seven-minute "It's My Life, Baby") pepper the predominantly original tunes, which slot somewhere between slinky Texas and rugged Chicago blues infused with classic urban R&B. Ray, whose harp talents were underutilized in the horn-heavy Roomful, makes up for lost time by soloing on almost every track, and Kid Bangham's guitar swings and stings without overshadowing the headliner's work. A deeply soulful and honest album whose understated attack and ensemble playing is more powerful than louder blues bands who substitute volume for passion.

Customer Reviews

Soulful, Sexy and a Bit Sinful

It's My Life Baby lights up this album. It's such a soulful compilation and will not disappoint. Sugar Ray is an amazing talent who is sorely underrated. I'm a new fan but will continue to follow this group as a fellow Rhode Islander. Plan oin visiting my home state next summer and I'm hopeful to see them in person.

Biography

Formed: 1979 in Orange County, CA

Genre: Blues

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

East Coast based blues band fronted by singer/harmonica man Ray Norcia and featuring guitar work over the years by Ronnie Earl (Roomful of Blues, Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters) and Kid Bangham (The Fabulous Thunderbirds). Blues sensation Monster Mike Welch added his name to the list in 2003 with the release of The Bluetones fifth studio album. Aside from his stellar harp work, Norcia is an excellent singer,...
Full Bio
Rockin' Sugar Daddy, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones
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