Robert CRAY – I was Warned 1992

Robert CRAY – I was Warned 1992

Blues

When Robert Cray recorded 1992’s I WAS WARNED, he went with the same line-up that appeared on the wonderfully Stax-soaked MIDNIGHT STROLL. The only exception was Karl Sevareid replacing long-time bass player Richard Cousins. With the Memphis Horns on hand once again, Cray’s efforts yielded yet another batch of songs detailing the universal ups and downs found within the slippery slopes of love.

The tango-like cadence Cray applies to the title track adds an appropriate amount of foreboding for the love-struck fool at the center of this tale, while guitarist Tim Kaihatsu’s contribution, “Just A Loser,” could easily be the aftermath of the aforementioned doom. More than any of Cray’s other albums, I WAS WARNED is hip-deep in the losing end of love. Cray’s approach to loss ranged from the subtle plea for another chance in “The Price I Pay” to defiance on the mannered cheekiness of “Won The Battle.” The Memphis Horns earn their salt on the Otis Redding-inspired “A Whole Lotta Pride” and the heart wrenching “He Don’t Live Here Anymore,” in which the estrangement is with a patriarch rather than a lover.
**
Robert Cray’s soulful vocals and spanky, sustainless guitar enliven the fairly by-the-numbers blues-influenced R&B on I Was Warned. The band itself is solid (especially tough-as-nails drummer Kevin Hayes), if unexceptional; the addition of the Memphis Horns (Andrew Love on tenor sax and Wayne Jackson on trumpet and trombone) on many of these tracks is a definite step in the right direction. However, the tracks are devoid of any kind of dirt whatsoever, which prevents them from really kicking the listener the way that they should. Granted, Cray isn’t R.L. Burnside or even Buddy Guy, but a little more grit to the band performances, arrangements, tones, and recording would go a long way toward aiding the emotional kick of his admittedly great set of pipes. Cray is also not aided by the writing, which is hit or miss throughout. Such standout tracks as the anguish-laden “He Don’t Live Here Anymore” and the swinging “Our Last Time” serve to offset missteps such as the title track. The production even actually helps the Steve Cropper co-written “On the Road Down,” which features a great vocal performance from the leader. In addition to his wonderful singing voice, Cray’s unique guitar sound and approach, one of the most distinctive in blues, is on full display on I Was Warned. Take a listen to the beginning of his solo on “Just a Loser,” to the way that the phrase just flows out of his guitar in a way that suggests the blues without being overtly bluesy, for a good indication of his extremely effective instrumental skills. His playing is powerful and idiosyncratic, but his intensity and focus are unfortunately not matched by other aspects of this recording. I Was Warned is not a bad Cray album by any means; it just lacks the sort of fire that would make it really take off.
By Daniel Gioffre, All Music Guide.
**
Robert Cray- Guitar, Vocals
Jim Pugh- Keyboards
Tim Kaihatsu- Guitar, Composer
Wayne Jackson- Trombone, Trumpet
Andrew Love- Sax (Tenor)
Karl Sevareid- Bass
Kevin Hayes- Drums
**
01.Just A Loser 4:26
02. I’m A Good Man 4:16
03. I Was Warned 7:16
04. The Price I Pay 5:05
05. Won The Battle 3:50
06. On The Road Down 4:01
08. A Whole Lotta Pride 4:39
09. A Picture Of A Broken Heart 5:26
10. He Don’t Live Here Anymore 5:15
11. Our Last Time 5:09
**


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