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The First Album

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Album Review

Roomful of Blues' self-titled 1977 disc on Island Records, produced by Joel Dorn and the great Doc Pomus, reveals a powerful and entertaining approach to material from Noble "Thin Man" Watts, Chick Willis, Aaron Walker, Lou Willie Turner, and others. Duke Robillard's authentic vocal and guitar lead with authority, the group performing these solid blues with the precision of jazz greats. There's an interesting resemblance here to the Atlantic debut of the J. Geils Band, not in sound, but in look and attitude. Decades later Robillard would join John Geils; merging their journeymen talents, this ten-track collection by the septet is chock-full of this Duke's magic and indicates great things to come. Though Greg Piccolo is the tenor sax player in the ensemble, Scott Hamilton is featured on Aaron Walker's "Still in Love with You," a performance by the group that allows their respective talents to shine, the production flawlessly gives breathing room to each instrument. The rave version of "Honey Hush" condenses the music, focusing the elegance of the previous track into a rocking stomp with the band building into a mini blues Wall of Sound. Where members of another New England band of the day, Duke & the Drivers, were more fans than musicians, creating a party atmosphere from the sheer love of it, this serious bunch re-creates the aura found on some of the better known renditions of these compositions much like Stompy Jones, a group of veterans in the new millennium capturing the spirit of the time when this music was in its heyday. "Duke's Blues" is an inspired original with the guitar and saxes wailing in a symphony of earthy tones. The disc is an impressive contribution, but perhaps a bit out of place on a label that featured Bob Marley, Robert Palmer, Ultravox, John Cale, and Steve Winwood around the time of this album's release. [The 2002 Hyena edition includes a four-song bonus disc in addition to the original, ten-track album.]

Customer Reviews

Roomfull of blues first album

One of the best if not the best example of jump blues one of my top ten ever !!!!!

Top Notch!

-Walked into an Ann Arbor record store 35 years ago to the honking strains of "Give It Up" and bought the LP on the spot.

-This album is good enough to have had it on vinyl, cassette, CD and now iTunes. It never gets old.


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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The First Album, Roomful of Blues
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