Archive for the Robert CRAY Category

Robert CRAY Band – Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark 1988

Posted in BLUES, Robert CRAY on November 20, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Robert CRAY Band – Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark 1988
834 923-1, 834 923-1

Blues

This is widely perceived as a sellout, but for no good reason. Cray continues to deliver the goods: great songs, great playing. If anything Cray is too consistent; the material stretches a bit. Cray tackles homelessness on Night Patrol.” His straight blues shuffle, “Across the Line,” is a showpiece, as is the Stax-perfect ballad “At Last.” “I Can’t Go Home” is a masterpiece of dramatic soul singing and became a concert highlight.
By Frank John Hadley.
**
With 1986’s Strong Persuader, guitarist and vocalist Robert Cray stepped to the front of the line as a smooth and intelligent practitioner of the blues genre. Strong Persuader almost worked as well as a greatest hits set, with the brilliant Willie Mitchell-influenced “I Guess I Showed Her” being best of a perfect ten. With that standard being set, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is marred by it’s lack of potent material and a tired-sounding band and Cray. The title is a steamy track punctuated by the Memphis Horns. The edgy and methodical “Don’t You Even Care” finds Cray again on the losing end of a relationship. Although the relationship blues are stinging here, this album’s best effort strays far from the formula. The oddly humorous “Night Patrol” has Cray playing armchair therapist wondering what went wrong with a drunk, and a 17-year-old girl on the corner. By song’s end he can also wonder about himself, as he too hits the streets a potentially dangerous wandering psycho. For the most part Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has the sly work Cray is famous for. The sprite “Gotta Change Rules” the country/Memphis sound influenced has Cray doing some strong vocalizations and taut guitar riffs. “At Last” and “Laugh Out Loud,” while not horrible, do come off like uninspired filler. This is one of those albums that might not be exciting at first, but if it is listened to intently some of the songs do become worthwhile.
By Jason Elias, All Music Guide.
**
…He found exactly what he was looking for by turning to one of his oldest friends and colleagues: bassist Richard Cousins, whose tenure with the Robert Cray Band began with its barnstorming regional origins in Eugene, Oregon, in 1974 and extended through 1991, encompassing such early high-water marks as Strong Persuader (1986) and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1988), both winners of the best contemporary blues performance Grammy…
**
Horns Arranged By- The Memphis Horns
Bass- Richard Cousins
Drums- David Olson
Keyboards- Peter Boe
Alto Sax- David Sanborn #B1
Tenor Sax- Andrew Love
Trumpet, Trombone- Wayne Jackson
Vocals, Guitar- Robert Cray
**
A1. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark  3:47
A2. Don’t You Even Care?  3:56
A3. Your Secret’s Safe With Me  4:52
A4. I Can’t Go Home  4:23
A5. Night Patrol  4:43
B1. Acting This Way  4:26
B2. Change The Rules  3:24
B3. Across The Line  4:07
B4. At Last  3:30
B5. Laugh Out Loud  4:20
**

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Robert CRAY – I was Warned 1992

Posted in BLUES, Robert CRAY on November 18, 2010 by whoisthemonk

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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Robert CRAY – Sweet Potato Pie 1997

Posted in BLUES, Robert CRAY on November 18, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Robert CRAY – Sweet Potato Pie 1997

Blues

Robert Cray always flirted with gritty Southern soul, but it wasn’t until Sweet Potato Pie that he made a full-fledged soul-blues record in Memphis. Cray hasn’t abandoned blues, but he’s woven punchy horns and sexy rhythms into the mix, resulting in one of his stronger records of the ’90s. The material remains a bit uneven, but his taste is impeccable — few blues guitarists are as succinct and memorable as he, and the soul settings of Sweet Potato Pie only confirm that fact.
By Thom Owens, All Music Guide.
**
Robert Cray gives us yet another R&B sounding album here that doesnt miss the mark. “The One In The Middle” is a soulful plea of love gone away that really shows off Cray’s great vocal talents. “Little Birds”, “Back Home”, “Nothing Against You”, also fit this description. Crays vocals tend to overlooked becasue of his guitar playing, but he does have a great voice and on this album it shows. The Otis Redding song, “Trick or Treat”, is a little more upbeat than the others I mentioned and Cray does this song some justice. You can compare this albums sound to Otis Redding’s, that is how the music comes accross. This is a more soul and R&B sounding album as compared to “Strong Persuader”. I think that any Cray fan will enjoy this album
By Martin Lemos.
**
Robert Cray is one of the Blues artists who can best mix Blues with Rhythm and Blues, and Soul influences, with great taste and style. 1997’s “Sweet Potato Pie” confirms that fact.
The album contains up-tempo rhythms (“I Can’t Quit”, “Nothing Against You”, “Jealous Minds”), as well as laid-back melancholic ballads, which really give the album its overall Soul spirit (“Not Bad For Love”, “The One In the Middle”, “Simple Things”). Otis Redding’s “Trick Or Treat” is also among the set, and is perfectly at home among Cray’s own compositions.
“Sweet Potato Pie” contains Cray’s strongest material since “Strong Persuader” (1986). Yet, unlike this other great album, Robert Cray insists less on guitar, and gives a greater share to his singing, and to the Horns section (the Memphis Horns).
**
Robert Cray- Guitar, Vocals
Jim Pugh- Keyboards
Wayne Jackson- Trumpet
Andrew Love- Tenor Sax
Karl Sevareid- Bass
Kevin Hayes- Drums
**
01. Nothing Against You 5:48
02. Do That For Me 4:28
03. Back Home 6:02
04. The One In The Middle 5:19
05. Little Birds 3:52
06. Trick Or Treat 3:11
07. Simple Things 4:47
08. Jealous Minds 4:44
09. Not Bad For Love 7:15
10. I Can’t Quit 5:05
**

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Robert CRAY – Strong Persuader 1986

Posted in BLUES, Robert CRAY on November 16, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Robert CRAY – Strong Persuader 1986
UDCD 564

Blues

STRONG PERSUADER won a 1988 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Recording.

1986’s STRONG PERSUADER was a milestone both for Robert Cray and blues in the ’80s. It earned Cray, a veteran of the Pacific Northwest blues scene, both his first solo Grammy and Top 30 hit (“Smoking Gun”) along with a lift out of the blues ghetto which he’d been excelling in during recent years. As for the blues themselves, Cray infused fresh blood into a genre that had been limping along in that particular decade.

With a smooth singing style to go with an equally recognizable guitar tone, Cray developed a sound that owed as much to soul stylist O.V. Wright as it did to Texas guitarist Albert Collins (with whom Cray had won a Grammy along with Johnny Copeland the prior year). The use of the Memphis Horns strengthened the soul connection on songs such as the punchy “Nothing But A Woman” and the chugging effervescence of “Guess I Showed Her.” Of course, Cray’s heart lay in the blues and when he wasn’t lamenting the woes of infidelity in “Right Next Door (Because Of Me)” and a bad break-up in “Still Around,” his guitar playing smoldered throughout the forlorn “New Blood.”
**
Cray’s music contains sometimes sexual lyrics, which are showcased on Strong Persuader. Some lyrics from “Fantasized”, for example: “She had sugar-sweet lips and magical hips just like I fantasized, what a slow ride, she moaned and she cried just like I fantasized.”
**
The set that made Cray a pop star, despite its enduring blues base. Cray’s smoldering stance on “Smoking Gun” and “Right Next Door” rendered him the first sex symbol to emerge from the blues field in decades, but it was his innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic. “Nothing but a Woman” boasts an irresistible groove pushed by the Memphis Horns and some metaphorically inspired lyrics, while “I Wonder” and “Guess I Showed Her” sizzle with sensuality.
By Bill Dahl. AMG.
**
Stinging urban blues by way of Texas and Memphis distinguish Robert Cray’s major-label debut, which followed three strong independent releases. Here he fleshes out his sound with bursts of brassy Southern soul courtesy of the Memphis Horns, but keeps his pungent, steely guitar solos out front in an engaging dialogue with his plaintive vocals. Released in 1986, Strong Persuader signaled that Cray, as a writer like his contemporary Stevie Ray Vaughan–had something to say about his interior life beyond the usual bluesman’s laments, an approach that pays homage to the music’s rich traditions while suggesting new areas of inquiry.
By David McGee.
**
Robert Cray hits the bulls-eye with this collection of blues, rock and soul. His fast, dexterous guitar is always melodic, never gimmicky, and he leads a tight, no-frills backup band that often manages to sound like a Muscle Shoals studio band of the sixties. Robert’s strong, clear voice conveys both rage and humor (sometimes at the same time!) but from the cover picture, you know the humor is the real message. The songs are mainly about love’s suspicions and betrayals, most prominently in “Smoking Gun”, and his lyrics are always compelling. Every song delivers flawlessly, making it impossible to nitpick or say some songs are better than others. There is nothing innovative or unusual about “Strong Persuader”, it’s all been done before, but few have done it as well, or managed to sound so distinctive as Robert Cray. This Seattle native has held a steady popularity among his fans and music critics, but despite his amazing singing and playing, his thorough professionalism, and his “marquee good looks”, he never broke out into really massive popular appeal. What a shame!
By Andy Agree.
**
Robert Cray-G uitar, vocals
Peter Boe- Keyboards
Andrew Love- Tenor Sax
Wayne Jackson- Trumpet, Trombone
Lee Spath- Percussion (tracks: 3, 6, 9)
Richard Cousins- Bass
David Olson- Drums
**
01. Smoking Gun  4:09
02. I Guess I Showed Her  3:40
03. Right Next Door (Because Of Me)  4:21
04. Nothin’ But A Woman  3:59
05. Still Around  3:42
06. More Than I Could Stand  3:00
07. Foul Play  4:19
08. I Wonder  3:58
09. Fantasized  4:05
10. New Blood  4:21
**

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